For two weeks, artist Kristen Cochran has transformed Texas Christian University’s Moudy Gallery into an in-situ studio space open to students and the public. The project title cleverly refers to a retrospective with the added connotation of the spectator. I met with Cochran to discuss some of her ideas, works-in-progress and notions of private vs. public space within the gallery context. I’m intrigued by this model within the academic context, as it presents an opportunity to demystify the artist’s process — one that offers art students insight into the life of a professional artist. I wish I had experiences like this during my studies. The gallery walls and floors are covered with photographic sketches, drawings, books, and assemblage sculptures, and while it resembles an artist’s studio space, it is still very clean and sterile.
One of the key themes in Cochran’s work is the investigation between digital and physical spaces. She researched private islands for sale, printing screen shots and juxtaposing them with images from “free hot tubs” found on Craigslist. The idea of a personal oasis addresses physical and emotional desire and longing for rest, but also highlights how our wants are fueled by digital fantasy surfing. Many of the hot tub images showed tubs in various states of disrepair, emphasizing a ruptured fantasy, or how fantasy doesn’t hold up to reality.
At the end of the micro-residency, the artist will present her reflections to the university community in a lecture on January 27 at 12 pm. Expanding upon her ideas, the gallery will also feature her work in a solo exhibition in 2023.