Makeal Flammini: The Bricks Are Dipped In Marble Dust at Sky High Gallery
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On the heels of the Parachute Project’s last exhibition, Herr Seagull And His Global Dustbreath, organizer Makeal Flammini announced that she would be living in the tiny town of Ballyvaughn, in the desolate Burren region of County Clare, Ireland, for the next nine months. Curator of the Astrix Gallery, owner of Brickhouse Printing, and founder of the Parachute Project, the absence of this Milwaukee artist was felt throughout the creative community. Now, just days after arriving home, Sky High Gallery welcomes her back this Saturday by hosting a solo exhibition entitled The Bricks Are Dipped In Marble Dust, featuring the work she created while abroad.
Flammini found herself on her way to Ireland after her partner was offered a residency position at the Burren College Of Art. She joined him with no real purpose or expectations. What she found when she arrived was the harsh landscape of the Burren countryside, sparsely inhabited, and dominated by weather. She began her days isolated, anxious, and without a real purpose.
Leaving Milwaukee gave her a chance to reflect: “I was really burnt out, if I’m honest about it. The Parachute Project is a lot of work. It’s really gratifying work and I love to do it, but my mind was in a different place.”
As the days wore on in the Burren, Flammini spent her time taking walks and playing cards. The holidays approached, and she posted a plea to Facebook in the form of a project titled Please Let Me Get All The Things I Desire. In exchange for $10 or $20, she created drawings, poems, or short stories to be delivered by mail in hopes of raising enough money for a plane ticket home for Christmas. Pleasantly surprised by the amount of interest, she soon found herself overwhelmed with orders; for three months, she drew from 8 a.m. until around midnight. Flammini had once again found her voice. “The Christmas project opened me back up. I was rolling after that.”
The drawings of Makeal Flammini have always held the nuance of a supreme observer. Like any good collector of information, she keeps many of her subjects’ secrets to herself. She describes Ballyvaughn as having a sort of Twin Peaks vibe, where she was surrounded by breathtaking landscapes and the same 20 people every day. Her unique role was that she really didn’t have one. “I kind of orbited around everyone working or studying at the school, which was perfect for me because I could kind of look in and listen, and know everything about what was happening. But I didn’t have any real stake in anything. It was like having my eye pressed to a keyhole. I think it would be easy to describe myself as gossipy. But I’m not gossipy. I just like good stories, and if you have one, I want it.”
Inspired by the people she met while living in the Burren, her most recent body of work depicts her encounters with these characters. She leaves her viewers to contend with her hints, piquing their interest enough to become entranced, but never enough to complete the story.
Opening this Saturday at Sky High Gallery in Bay View, The Bricks Are Dipped In Marble Dust will be on view through June 9. A book version of Please Let Me Get All The Things I Desire will be on sale at the event.