Local Talk: Q+A with featured Local Artist: Sinéad Day MacLeod

Sinead, so happy to partner and show your beautiful and powerful work at Local. Take us back to the beginning. When did you know you wanted to express yourself through Art?

Thanks! I'm so happy to have my work here! I guess I have always known I wanted to do something arts related but it was hard to narrow down. I studied Critical Theory as an undergraduate and that allowed me to look at all sorts of media as art. After undergraduate, I got into an MFA program at William Paterson with a strong digital sculpture program so I've been able to learn a lot about new technologies like robotic production, 3D printing, as well as virtual and augmented reality. The work here is more representative of the part of my practice that is really focused on the tactile enjoyment of making. I love collage because think of each piece as a series of formal problems to be solved. Content for my other work often emerges first in my collages. 


I'm fascinated with your path to multimedia art forms. How do you know when and where to pick up a new medium? 

When it is right in front of me! I often work with found material so I will develop a new skill set when presented with a problem to solve. I began these photo-transfer collage pieces because I had old magazines and pieces or wood. I found that I really enjoyed the process of putting down an image and then revealing it through transfer, as well as the process of flipping through old texts for interesting images. 


Of all your art forms, do you have a favorite for it's ability to tell a richer, more impactful story?

I think video is probably my favorite medium because it has the broadest capacity for experiments. With video, you can create and manipulate an image but you also have time, sound and presentation to play with. It can be really immersive or really alienating. I also find the vocabulary of film and TV very useful for investigating the contemporary concerns that I look at in my work. Video has a different formal history than painting, and I like that freedom from art history. 



You have trained in Italy, how did the gravity of training in a country with such rich heritage in the arts shape your approach?

I had a residency in a very small town at a marble carving company that was working with digital technology; carving marble with robots. It was really interesting to work with a master craftsman on the hand carved parts of my sculpture after I had worked with the mill programmer on the robot's tool path programming. Both aspects of the process required an extremely specific technical knowledge. Marble is an incredible material that is both very delicate and durable. It is a soft stone, but it is stone. It is a physically challenging and labor intensive medium. I enjoyed being able to use my whole body and to have a very immediate relationship to my sculpture. I'd only worked with stone a little bit before Italy so it was an incredible experience to work with men who carved stone every day for most of their lives. 


Have you worked on a project with a specific goal that went terribly wrong but taught you a valuable lesson?

Every one has gone terribly wrong! I think each piece turns out very far from what I imagined and each one is a lesson. Of course, some failures are happy accidents and others are just failures but if 10% of my work ends up doing something interesting, I'm very pleased. 



Tell us a bit about the project you have so graciously shared with us at Local.

These works are part of two complimentary projects created with the same method. They are almost all photo transfers on wood. The images come from old art history textbooks and magazines. I'm interested in representations of women's bodies in art throughout history. The recurring figure is the Venus of Willendorf, a paleolithic carving and one of the oldest figurative works discovered.  


How does living in Montclair help drive your passion for the Arts?

I grew up in Montclair so it is really helpful to have so many connections with interesting and talented people. There are a lot of very supportive institutions and creative people working in the area. It is exciting to be a part of a vibrant community. Also, we are so close to New York and Newark so there is a real sense of connection with the larger art community. 


What does local mean to you?

I always think of the phrase, "think globally, act locally."  It can be really overwhelming to face the entirety of the world and try to consider change. It can also feel like everything important is happening elsewhere. Both of those feelings are really paralyzing. Great things happen on small scales and within communities, locally!



What is your favorite Coffee or Tea beverage?

I'm a purist so definitely an Iced Americano or a Cappuccino. I love freshly ground espresso and perfectly steamed milk!