Interview with Gulsah Mursaloglu

Could you give us a brief introduction to who you are and what kind of work you make?
I was born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. I received my BA from Bogazici University in Istanbul where I studied Sociology. Then I came to Chicago to get a Post-bac Certificate in Studio at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, and I stayed in Chicago to pursue my MFA and have been here since. When I first came to Chicago I was mainly painting, however throughout my post-bac year my work slowly evolved into objects and installation. Now I’m mostly working on installations with multiple parts that are in relationship to one another.

Where do you gather most of the inspiration for your works?
I find a lot of inspiration in the daily systems around us, and also how people deal with failure of these systems. Coming from a family of farmers I have always been fascinated with the source of things, systems of production, relationships of production and the processes and geographies materials go through until the point we encounter them.   

What is your most important artist tool? Is there something you can’t live without in your studio?
There are two things I always need in my studio; one of them is a large bucket. Since my work involves a lot of tests and experiments with materials, there is a lot of mixing and playing with them; for these processes I always need to have a big bucket or bowl around me. Second thing is a kettle for making tea. I feel like the kettle brings vitality and warmth to my studio and keeps me going in between intense working periods, and I really enjoy having tea at times when I’m just looking at the work and trying to figure out the next step. 

What types of obstacles have you run into in your artistic practice and how do you go about navigating around them?
I would say that one major problem I run into is universal for most emerging artists: creation of studio time. In between working, teaching and other things it is difficult for me to create studio days but I’m becoming better at time management and starting to find more studio time through more efficiently organizing my time. The second problem that I keep running into is transportation of my works; since my pieces are very fragile, and I don’t own a car it becomes very difficult for me to transport my pieces to galleries in a safe way and I often need to fix some parts of the pieces on site. I’m currently trying to navigate this problem by making my pieces into multiple parts that can be assembled in the gallery.  

Gulsah-08.jpg

What do you feel are the recurring themes in your visual work?  
I feel like the themes that recur in my work are our relationships to daily systems, systems of production around us, our relationships to failure, functionality, materiality, fragility and different temporalities. Most of my work is ephemeral and needs to be taken care of in order to extend their presences, so within each piece there are also aspects of care, attention and a slower sense of time.

Is there a particular artist you feel you relate to? Who are your role models (artists or non-artists)?
I think Eva Hesse has always been my primary role model. I have been fascinated with her sensitivity to materials and the poetics she creates with them since my high school years. Other contemporary artists I relate to are Michael Beutler, Phoebe Washburn, Nancy Lupo and Jessica Jackson Hutchins. As far as other role models go, Italo Calvino is someone I always admired; I really relate to his writing, and the fragile balance he establishes between the fictional and the mundane. I would love my work to have a similar sense of poetry and sensibility to his writing. 

Off-Season Harvest for Non-Revolutionary Ideas Soil, popcorn, corn kernels, water, and mixed media Dimensions variable

Off-Season Harvest for Non-Revolutionary Ideas
Soil, popcorn, corn kernels, water, and mixed media
Dimensions variable

Valid Causations From an Elephant's Memory Soil, potatoes, clay, and mixed media Dimensions variable

Valid Causations From an Elephant's Memory
Soil, potatoes, clay, and mixed media
Dimensions variable

What is the best piece of artistic advice you’ve been given?
Best piece of artistic advice I have been given is to show up to my studio everyday. Things only happen once you’re in the studio, so I guess never to wait for inspiration and just to show up no matter what.