Episode 5: Maddison Colvin, visual artist
In this episode, Mormon Artist host Katherine Morris interviews visual artist Maddison Colvin about her current work in the Springville Museum of Art’s 29th Annual Spiritual & Religious Art of Utah show, her composite pieces of Mormon Utah temples and LDS General Conference talks, and her thoughts on Mormon visual culture and the intersection of science and art.
- Interview date: December 13, 2014
- Maddison’s website
- Podcast song: “Blackberry’s Hedge” by Secret Jane. License: CC BY-NC-SA 3.0 US
Katherine Morris: Welcome to the Mormon Artist podcast. I’m Katherine Morris. Today we’re interviewing visual artist Maddison Colvin. Hi, Maddison.
Maddison Colvin: Hello!
Katherine: Maddison Colvin was born in 1990 in Nuremberg, Germany to two army doctors. She received her bachelor’s degree in painting from Whitworth University in 2008 and has lived and worked in Utah since 2009. She received her MFA in painting from BYU in 2013. From 2013 to 2014, she was the artist-in-residence at the Museum of Contemporary Art in Salt Lake City. She currently teaches drawing, design, and painting at BYU.
All right, Maddison. Tell me about your background in the visual arts and how you got into that.
Maddison: I think one of the things that got me so interested in art during my childhood was that it was something that I couldn’t quite figure out. I was homeschooled, and so I was able to blow through a lot of schoolwork very quickly.
But whenever I would draw, I would have all of these problems that I had to solve that weren’t so straightforward—I couldn’t figure out a formula and just apply it to whatever I wanted to draw. It was challenging to me in a way that I got really absorbed in. So, that was really exciting to me as a kid—to be able to create images but have the challenge of not really knowing how to draw something.
Katherine: So, when you went to—I think you started out at a community college before you transferred to Whitworth. Did you know going into it that you wanted to do visual arts?
Maddison: I actually thought I was going to be an English major for the first little while. I’m also a pretty heavy reader, and I thought, “Oh, English major.” But then I took a drawing class, and the teacher said, “Well, you’re going to be an art major, right?” And I was like, “Oh—yes, actually. I will be an art major.”
It was kind of like a very arbitrary decision almost. But I’m glad I did it. I went to community college for a few years and did all my gen eds, and definitely my art classes were the ones where I felt the most at home.
Katherine: Okay, well let’s get right into some of your works. Maddison is showing two pieces right now at the Springville Museum of Art, their religious and spirituality exhibit.
Let’s talk about those. You have two there, but they’re part of this series that you’ve titled Typologies. One of them is called “Templates (London),” and it is a series of drawings, of churches in London that have been drawn over each other to make this composite piece. Let’s talk about that one.
Maddison: The whole reason I was interested in this Typology series was Bernd and Hilla Becher are these German artists who would go around documenting buildings that had very specific purposes or meanings that felt kind of removed from their contemporary setting. So, water towers that were no longer in use, or very specific types of German architecture from the Middle Ages that were still in existence, like barns and stuff like that.
They would just have these very stark images, and I was really interested in this idea of gathering all this information and presenting it. So, I thought, I’ll do that with churches in London because that’s architecture that feels especially—it felt like it resonated with me, and that I had access to it. I was in London at the time.
So, I would walk around documenting the interiors and exteriors of these churches, and I got all these drawing on vellum. I looked at them and said, “What am I going to do with all this information?” I can’t just present it, because that doesn’t feel like it expresses what I’m interested in about the churches, which is what they have in common. When you put that information side-by-side, it feels like it indicates difference rather than similarity. So, I essentially re-drew all of these churches on top of each other so I could get the shape of whatever felt similar about them onto paper.
So, I don’t know if that makes sense.
Katherine: Yeah, that’s interesting. When we talked about—previously in a discussion at the Springville Museum of Art, where I met Maddison—we talked about what emerged was this vertical space. It’s very dark, too, because there are all of these overlayed on each other. What was that process of discovery like for you?
Maddison: Living in a Western landscape and seeing all these buildings that are very landscape-oriented, like horizontal and sprawling, I thought that the verticality of the churches was really interesting. “Spire,” “aspirational”—they share a linguistic root. There’s this feeling of Tower of Babel, reaching toward heaven in a lot of European churches that you don’t necessarily get with Western Mormon churches, which are more sprawling.
I was kind of just excited to explore that vertical aspect of it. It’s almost like a triangular shape, because you have this stacking up to a steeple. It’s kind of more body shaped, if that makes sense. A vertical shape—we call it portrait format. It feels like it has more to do with the human body or the shape of a person. I think that kind of reflects the aspect of those churches that is more person-oriented. It’s more interested in the individual’s relationship to the architecture, rather than the individual’s relationship to the other individuals around them.
It seems kind of generalized to say, but I think those churches are oriented more toward worship, like the relationship of the individual to God—in this vertical, looking upward sense—as opposed to Mormon churches, which are more oriented toward the community. There’s this kind of horizontal, looking sideways in those places.
Katherine: On your website, you also have a similar kind of composite work with LDS temples. So, tell me about that.
Maddison: I think that as worship spaces temples have more in common with churches that our meetinghouses do. By “churches,” I’m speaking broadly about other Christian churches. I really feel like saying a Mormon church as more to do with either the institution of the Church—like more to do with the institution than it has to do with the architecture. The architecture is very much “it’s a meetinghouse.” It’s not really a church. If you play basketball in a place, it doesn’t really feel like a church. It’s a community center.
The temples as sacred spaces are more loaded, and the architecture becomes codified in ways that have variation. Almost all stake centers look identical, so if I were to do that kind of an image with a stake center, it would look like a stake center with a bunch of extra lines. Stake centers—there’s not a lot of interest in the architecture, because it’s purely functional. But there is a worship aspect—there’s a huge worship aspect to being in the temple.
Temple architecture feels more worship-oriented or sacred, so I was interested more in that kind of variation and repetition in that kind of architecture.
Katherine: Yeah, that’s a really interesting comment. I hadn’t thought about that before, but it’s definitely true. Our chapels are pretty utilitarian, and it’s kind of a funny contrast, then, when you look at the temples. We spend a lot more on them, and obviously the way they look is a lot more important to us. So, what did you notice when you made that piece?
Maddison: I suppose I just noticed that it doesn’t seem like there’s as much of a universal style to building temples. The temples that Gordon B. Hinckley put up in the ’90s and the early 2000s—those were a little more cookie cutter. They look a little bit more like stake centers, and I think there are at least four or five that are the exact same design—just sort of plopped down in different countries. That maybe feels more related to the efficiency model of church architecture.
The temples, as they grew over decades, went through phases. They went through the weird mish-mash of whatever is going on with the Salt Lake Temple—the kind of like, “We’ll make it look kind of like a castle, but also kind of like a mountain, but also kind of like—” It’s just very—it’s kind of bizarre, you know? And then you have kind of colonial styles with the St. George Temple. It feels almost East Coast—like East Coast architecture. And Manti, I suppose as well. But then you have the Modernism of the Provo Temple—and, I think it was the former temple in Ogden. I think there’s a new—it was redecorated to be less like a Modernist monolith.
So, you kind of have these growing pains of different styles of architecture way more represented in the temples than in the meetinghouses. That was kind of cool—to see the people in different decades grappling with the issue of how do you create a space of worship, but within the context of the other architecture that they had to read around them.
Katherine: One of the things I think is interesting about that piece is that—I just talked to a photographer. His name is Scott Jarvie. He went around photographing all of the temples in the United States in every state. So, he has this book, and it’s one temple after another, after another, after another. I remember asking him, “So, how do you keep that fresh, how do you keep going on that, how do you approach that?” Because I’m sure they start to look kind of similar.
If you’re looking at temple art online, a lot of it starts to look kind of similar—how many ways can you represent the Salt Lake Temple? Well, infinite, but you do get a lot of repetition, because it’s the same building. What I think is interesting about your piece is that you take that repetition and make a new image out of it and make us look at it again.
Maddison: I think, actually, in some sense doing that with stake centers would be kind of useful, because I’ve been in stake centers in London that look exactly like something you would find in Idaho. So, the sense of that repetition or that sameness across geographic regions I think is kind of interesting. I think it’s mostly when it’s kind of compressed into one image that you’re like, “Oh, actually”—there is this kind of shape that emerges, or this kind of impression that emerges.
Katherine: Let’s move from those works, the Typologies, to Investigations. These can all be found on Maddison’s website. You kind of went in a similar direction as far as that repetition goes with a couple of works that you did that were from General Conference talks. So, tell me about those.
How did you make them, by the way? They’re videos, so they’re not still images. How did you do that?
Maddison: Yeah, so I took all of the First Presidency’s and apostles’ talks from a session of General Conference—I think it was last October’s General Conference—and I made them transparent using Final Cut Pro and layered them over each other so the audio and video of all the talks is playing simultaneously. So, you get these kind of transparent, weird ghostly figures moving out of this central blob of pink—this central pink face. You have the triangular shape of the white shirt and black tie underneath. It’s this kind of jagged, transparent slice of a person. You can kind of see faces moving in and out, and you can kind of recognize a voice that comes forward by dint of saying a word louder or emphasizing something.
The reason I made that was I was watching Conference and realizing that the sound quality of Conference is so specific. The way they mix the audio—the way they light and shoot the speakers—is something I think if it was totally decontextualized—if you had somebody delivering a TEDtalk up there and wearing normal clothes—the audio and the video are so specific that it’s easily identifiable and kind of codified. I wanted to kind of compress all that and see how it averaged out—how exactly structured it was.
It was pretty amazing that even when you go to the side view, the camera angle is so exactly the same that their faces will layer over each other from the side view. Sometimes you’ll be trying to listen to the thread of a sentence, and the sound quality is so similar, another sentence will bleed effortlessly into it. Anyway, so I kind of just overstretched the bounds of my MacBook and layered all these talks over each other and just sort of saw what happened.
I did the same thing with the female speakers. I think if I were to change anything about those pieces, I would want to have all the speakers from the entire conference layered over each other. Just for objectivity’s sake, instead of selecting so subjectively. But I think that might crash my computer, so I haven’t done it yet. I think it would overstep the bounds of what my processor can do.
Katherine: Well, it was interesting watching that, because in a way it was a microcosm of what it’s like to watch four, five sessions of General Conference. Because you can only process so much when you’re watching Conference, and only so much will stand out—like, maybe one, or two, or three talks.
What’s interesting is that while I was watching it, I was trying to—I was having that experience of wow, this is a compressed experience of what it’s like to watch General Conference where it’s lovely and beautiful, and I feel the Spirit, and I think about Jesus Christ, and I love these men and these women—but they do kind of blend together.
And what was interesting about that piece was to see how automatic it was for my brain to try to pick out individuals. So, I kept looking for—Oh, I think that’s President Eyring’s face. Oh, I think I saw it again. Or I heard a word and was trying to identify the word.
Maddison: Holland weaves around a lot—did you notice? He kind of rocks back and forth.
Katherine: So, it’s neat that you can kind of—it’s the composite, but by compressing that information, you can see the individuality at the same time of the different speakers.
Maddison: Yeah, it kind of goes into this mass. I don’t know if it’s because I’m a bad Mormon or what, but I have never been able to easily identify General Authorities, especially by their voices. If I’m not watching the video that has that little name that pops up at the bottom, I’m like, “I, uh—search me.” Eyring and Monson and some of the people with more specific voices—Oaks, I guess—I can tell them. But the rest, I’m like, “I don’t know.”
So, for me that was part of how—that video was kind of how I see Conference as this unified front of voices. I probably shouldn’t say that anymore, because I live in a ward in Salt Lake where a lot of General Authorities live.
Katherine: Oh, I think they would find the piece really interesting.
Maddison: I hope so. My mom was like, “You’re going to get excommunicated.” I’m just like, “I don’t know.” She’s kind of a Negative Nancy about me using Church images and ideas in my art.
But I think if you’re a Mormon and you’re interested in religion, you need to think about Mormonism. You need to not just say, “Oh, I’ll just make things that reference Catholicism ‘cause they have a richer visual culture.” No, you’ve got to kind of deal with the visual culture that we have as Mormons. It’s not elaborate, and it’s sometimes not pleasant, but you’ve got to figure out what our images are.
Katherine: Going along with that, I’m going to jump to your work on swarms. I’m just realizing as I’m going through these different aspects of your work that they all have a lot to do with repetition, so I’d be interested in hearing about that.
The swarms are these general kind of oval shapes with a bunch of different animals. You’ve done this many times—with bats—you’ve also done flowers, or plants, so it’s not just animals swarming, but most of them are animals swarming.
I was particularly interested in the honeybee one, because that was the second image that I ever saw of your work. Immediately I thought, “Oh, that’s so Mormon,” and yet it’s a swarm of bees, and it’s not necessarily Mormon. But when you’re talking about Mormon visual culture, the honeybee is one that’s very prominent—and one that I’ve seen in older works, I think more as the beehive. But now I’m seeing in younger Mormons’ works just the bee. I think it’s really interesting.
Tell me about your swarms and about the honeybee piece in particular.
Maddison: I think what I find interesting about swarms is that they’re representative of an individual organism participating in a community of organisms. Or exhibiting mass behavior. Not necessarily like a bee where they are working together as a group, but even as a flock of birds where they don’t seem to have many social ties that are beneficial to the group as a whole. They behave communally—they can fly in large groups without crashing into each other. They exhibit behaviors that the individual is incapable of. Or decision-making, like mass migration I think also functions that way.
With the plants—plants that grow rhizomatically, where a single root system will create a multitude of what appear to be plants. It’s this inexplicable sense of a single thing being part of a greater thing. I think that that’s really interesting, because as someone who’s interested in science, I’m really interested in organisms—but I’m also interested in where our knowledge of how organisms function stops and where mysterious things happen.
That’s kind of related to how religious people often think about nature as this kind of mysterious thing. We don’t totally understand its ways. Bees I think we understand a little bit better because they work together as a community and subsist as a whole. We really attach to that.
But I think Mormons have a lot of myths about swarms. All Christians believe in the plagues of Egypt. Mormons more specifically have the myth of the locusts and the gulls. I’m calling it a “myth” because it feels mythic, and there’s no substantiated evidence for it. Like a legend or a myth, it has extreme cultural weight.
Katherine: Yeah, a myth in the sense that the meaning is almost greater than the actual event.
Maddison: Exactly. And it’s definitely been mythologized. So, that kind of interest in the weird ganging up of nature. I kind of like that. I think people are uneasy about it. The swarms are kind of about the beauty of these repetitive organisms, but I hope they’re also a little scary or unsettling. To see this large ball of insects or this—because they’re these ovoid shapes, so I hope they feel like they have a lot of mass in the center. I want them to feel beautiful but also a little unsettling, or a little odd.
I think whenever you see a lot of one kind of animal, it gets a lot scarier than if you just see one animal.
Katherine: Yeah, I think so.
Maddison: Seeing one bee and seeing a swarm of bees—that’s a completely different experience, because suddenly you get this sense of being outnumbered or being met with something that has this malevolent force or group intelligence that ‘s really frightening. I think as people we believe we can outsmart animals, but not maybe a group of animals.
That kind of anxiety is present in like The Birds, a Hitchcock movie, or in the sense of the story of the locust and seagulls, or the story of the plagues of Egypt—just this sense of “somebody’s out to get me” because all these creatures are here all of a sudden. But really it’s just like a group of creatures is out to get you.
Katherine: So, when you were doing the one of the honeybee—it’s a pretty obvious thing to do if you’re doing a swarm because bees swarm—but there is that related meaning for Mormons. Did you think about that when you were making the piece?
Maddison: I did. I’ve been trying to think about how the swarm pieces relate to Mormonism. The bee piece is the most straightforward example of this, but I think Mormons like to think of the Church almost as a swarming mechanism—like the whole “cover the earth” mentality.
Katherine: Flooding the earth.
Maddison: Yeah, like flooding the earth. I think the Mormon mindset in terms of missionary work feels not dissimilar to that of how I’m thinking about swarming. Because I’m thinking about people, and in this case missionaries, who in their own rights have weaknesses and have an inability to express themselves purely—but as a group they become something that is more powerful or more meaningful or more expressive of the mission of the Church in general.
I think the bees—Mormons love bees because they’re hard workers. But I think Mormons need to question their relationship with bees sometimes, because bees also are self-sacrificing in ways that aren’t totally cool—they aren’t totally healthy. They’re all kind of subservient to this one, not necessarily the queen, but this one community goal. While a lot of what bees do is admirable, they also need to realize that bees are basically brainless. They’re industrious, but their lives are also terrible. They die.
I love bees. I Mormons’ relationship to bees, and I love Mormons’ relationship to the beehive, but I think that an industry basis for the Church—it probably sublimates the identity of the individual in a way that people aren’t totally ready for. In the ultimate version of the Church, it would behave like a beehive. It would be like a communal situation where everybody is self-sacrificing and they take only what they need. In real life now, that’s sort of only an ideal and not necessarily a likelihood.
Katherine: Well, that’s a huge tension between Mormonism and Western culture, and I would say between religions and Western culture just in general. Because Western culture has become a place where culturally the individual is so celebrated, and the individual’s accomplishments and personal industry is celebrated. There’s a lot of suspicion of collectivism and a collective culture. I think that’s one of the reasons some people feel uncomfortable with “organized religion”—it’s this negative phrase, right?
Maddison: I think it’s very interesting, because in a lot of ways the ideal version of Mormonism is a very utopian vision. But the idea with a lot of utopias is that they completely sublimate the identity of the individual. In the contemporary world, sublimating the identity of the individual is the ultimate death knell for any organization. Humanism is so—and I’m talking about humanism not in the Renaissance sense—but in kind of the postmodern sense of humanism.
People are so concerned with the rights, identity, and abilities of the individual that they’re sort of suspicious of anything that feels like it casts those to the side—and all utopian visions do that. All things that seek for an ideal world or seek for an ideal order of a society casts aside the individual. They say the individual functions as a kind of component in the machinery of the organization. I think that for a lot of people that sounds evil instead of sounding hopeful.
For people who think about utopias or think about idealized societies, that’s not evil and that’s not horrible. It’s kind of a nice idea. It’s a nice thought that everyone can leave their identities behind and become part of a functioning whole.
Katherine: Well, and in a collectivist culture, that that kind of becomes part of your identity.
I think that’s interesting that, going back to your swarm pieces, that that’s kind of reflected. They’re very beautiful—and it’s kind of neat to think about, in those different swarms, what’s going on collectively. That there are these individuals working together for this common purpose—and if you’re thinking about that, and you’re thinking about even just the visual beauty of it—it’s a really lovely idea.
But you’re right that, if you’re thinking about the, “But where are they going, and what’s their purpose, and could they turn on me?” you could also feel kind of nervous about. A lot of it depends on what part of that you’re thinking about when you’re looking at it—because they both exist in those swarms.
Maddison: I think it’s basically dependent on how secure you feel. I don’t know—I’ve been reading a lot about utopias or utopian communities, and 100 percent of the time they fail because of the prevalence of the individual over the whole. And what works about things like swarms—and probably what we find terrifying—is that the whole will of the group is not controlled by any individual or is not dependent on the will of any individual.
So, it’s a really interesting thing, but it’s also a terrifying thing, because I think as humans we’re incapable of it. People are like, “Why don’t you do a swarm of people rushing through a football stadium?” Well, first of all, I do everything life size, to scale, so that would be really hard. But also, I think that only in very few instances do people make mass communal decisions that are visible.
Katherine: Okay. So, in your artist statement on your website, you talk about science and religion and how they’re both systems of organizing experience and information, but they focus on different things. Tell me about that and your thoughts on that and how it plays into your work.
Maddison: I guess the reason I’m so interested in specifically science and religion is because they’re representative of two thought processes I’m always going through. The first is this kind of analytical, information-gathering side of the brain, which is all about factual evidence—things that could be observed and communicated. So, I can say, “It is raining outside” and that’s a fact.
Then there’s also the kind of personal, or phenomenological, or spiritual sensation, which is way harder to communicate. Which is that, “It is raining outside in exactly the same way it rained last year when I was visiting my friend in Seattle.” That’s very difficult to communicate that sensation. The language always kind of fails there.
I think that art has this unique ability to bridge that gap between gathering information and communicating something very direct. And also helping to communicate something that is incommunicable—in other words, experience or knowledge, or like personal knowledge. I think that when people separate spiritual knowledge and empirical knowledge, they’re making a mistake. They feel like one has to function independently of the other for both systems of knowledge to be valid. I just don’t think that’s true.
I think that of course empirical knowledge is going to play into how you feel about your testimony. It’s going to play into sensation or memory or things that are impossible to communicate. But to sense truth—to sense an encompassing truth or to posit an encompassing truth in empirical observation, you have to do something a little bit sloppy. You have to posit something that is partly based on emotion or partly based on phenomenological conclusions. You can’t just run data sets and then come to a conclusion. The mind has to make conclusions that are harder to communicate.
So, when people say you have to be an idiot to believe the universe was created by a big bang, I just think you are a sad, sick little person to believe that. And then other people who think you’re a sad, sick little person to believe that a god—a single individual could create something as complex as the universe—I’m just like, “Well, what are you trying to say? Are you just dissing on people for the sake of dissing on people?”
Nobody’s brain has the ability to function in a completely empirical or a completely spiritual way. You have to understand that both of those things are part of experience, and you can’t operate outside of human experience. You can’t. You’re a human. Deal with it. You’re operating within human experience. Learn to embrace the variation without turning it into a false dichotomy.
Katherine: Yeah, well, empirical evidence is always interpreted by a subjective human. There’s a human, and their mind and all of their experience and their assumptions, and what they believe about the world are interpreting that evidence. So, it’s not truly objective.
Then on the other side, when I’m considering my belief in God and specifically the truthfulness of Mormonism, there are a lot of physical things that I’m thinking about—experiences that have been drawn from things outside of myself. Yes, there has been that feeling I’ve had inside, that kind of spiritual feeling. But that’s caused by my interactions with other people and the physical world.
Maddison: Well, and part of the reason that prayers works is because of a ritual or repetitive aspect of it that’s measurable by the number of times per day you actually sit down and do it. Or reading things in the Bible will help you affirm things. There are very concrete things. You don’t live in a purely spiritual world when you’re thinking about the Church.
I think one of the advantages of the Church is the emphasis it puts on the body. Or the actual limitations of the physical world or the presence of the physical world. It forces you to engage with a community. It forces you to encounter people who are maybe very different from yourself, or maybe who hold opinions that you don’t agree with.
It also forces you to explore limitations of your body. It forces you to fast—well, it doesn’t force you to fast. Fasting, or even just the action of sitting forever in a church every single week—I think it makes you feel your body, and it makes you feel the reality of the world around you.
The fact that the Church can say, “Yeah, we live in a physical world. Your body is not an evil thing. It’s not a thing that your spirit is tied to because you stink and you’re a horrible person.” No—you have physical limitations as a human being, and you should learn to be interested in them and embrace them and figure out what those limitations are in order to become a better spirit.
As a spiritual or an experiential being, you have to engage with the physical world. I think that to say that the physical world is just to be experienced spiritually is bogus, and you need to reconsider that. So, I guess I’m just making another definitive statement about how to experience the world.
Katherine: Right. Well, and then Mormon theology gets really interesting where we say, actually everything that’s spiritual is physical, God has a body. Our bodies—not just our spirits—are going to be divine; but our bodies are at some point going to be divine too, right?
It’s funny how Mormon theology makes us maybe a little more comfortable than we otherwise would be with that intersection between what some people think as very separate, dichotomous areas—science and religion.
Maddison: Yeah. I think a lot of religious thinking says, “The body is a lie; it’s an obstacle you must get past.” And a lot of scientific thinking says, “The spirit is a lie; it’s an obstacle you must get past.” I think that one advantage of Mormon theology is that is doesn’t say either the body or the spirit is a lie. The are one, they belong together, and they influence each other—and they form the soul. The mind and the body together form the spirit.
Katherine: So, Maddison, what are you working on right now? What are we going to see next from you?
Maddison: I’ve been thinking a lot about Mormon communities and Mormon architecture. I’ve been thinking about the function of the meetinghouse and the function of the temple and how the architecture affects the function. So, I hopefully will be working on some potential utopian or idealized designs of meetinghouses and temples—things that probably aren’t functional but are sort of fictional.
I’m really interested in the architecture—the speculative architecture of Étienne-Louis Boullée, who’s a nineteenth-century dreamer, basically, who was thinking about all of this impossible architecture and how wonderful these certain types of monuments would be.
I like the idea of people dreaming about spaces or thinking about how a space gestures toward a more idealized space. When I go to the temple, I see glimpses of what an ideal temple would be. I don’t think there is any ideal temple in the world. And when I go to a meetinghouse, I can feel what the purpose of a meetinghouse is or feel what an ideal meetinghouse would be.
I want to kind of make my own very limited gestures at that. One of the things that I enjoy in my own artwork is when I make things that don’t work—when I make things that either don’t have a function or show their limitations on their sleeve. I’m kind of interested in how when I create a work of architecture, it’s going to probably not work out as a work of architecture. It will be structurally unsound, or there won’t be any bathrooms, or something like that—things I will have forgotten. It’s still a gesture toward an ideal or a dream about a place.
It’s going to be grounded in a lot of research on meetinghouses and temples. But I’m not an architect—I’m not at all an expert. So, it’s going to be this kind of naïve place that I think is not dissimilar to how early Mormons thought about the temple. They just kind of were sitting around and saying, “What’s it going to be like? What could it be like?” I kind of want to get back into that mindset a little bit.
Katherine: Well, that sounds fascinating. Maddison, thank you so much for joining us.
Maddison: Yeah, thank you for interviewing me. I think when I’m able to talk about things, it helps to solidify them or make them more real, so it’s always really helpful as an artist to talk about what I’m trying to do. It’s very helpful.
Katherine: Okay, well good luck with that.
Maddison: All right. Thank you. ❧