Marfa Open Arts Festival Wrap-Up 2018

Marfa Open has tapped a vein, with gold and silver.

The Marfa Open 2018 international art residency spanned the entire year, but the art performances and installations were in Marfa from 20 September to 7 October.   Ten Marfa artists participated, eight artists from the Museum of Human Achievement in Austin, as well as artists brought in from Tokyo, Dublin, Brooklyn, Portland, Lubbock, and Kentucky’s Appalachia.

A dear member of the Marfa Open art team said, “I wish the world was Marfa Open.” And in this spirit, we are planning our 2019 art festival calendar: Chiang Mai Thailand (February 2019); at Zürich's Cabaret Voltaire (March 2019); Ferrara Italy (May 2019); Venice Beach Italy (June 2019); and of course our residency program and events in Marfa, 25 September - 16 October 2019.

Marfa Open announced two Artist of the Year prizes last week. Grand Champion was awarded to Zach Morriss from Lubbock. Reserve Grand Champion was awarded to Maya Meissner from Brooklyn. We’ll be hearing and seeing more from them throughout the year.

Zach built 5 sculptural installations during his residency: 4 at the Marfa Open House and 1 at Building 98. Maya built up her award winning Cedar Lodge project on the Marfa Open House Art Deck, and both contributed significantly to group projects during their residency.

Zac says “My work for Marfa Open 2018 began with a road trip from Lubbock to Marfa. I used the opportunity to capture video of the landscape as I passed by. What begins with red dirt and cotton fields quickly turns into the Permian Basin oil fields, sand dunes, and finally the Davis Mountains. Being a native Texan, I am aware of the sprawling nature of suburbia, the never-ending road networks, and the enormity of our skyline. The time spent as Marfa Open artist in residence awarded further exploration of these themes. I created #TollRoad in response to the ever-expanding suburbs. The fence post jammed into a street cone has a Google Maps style image of a toll road transferred onto one side. This piece demarcates the point of public roads transferring into private hands. I also worked in collaboration with Marfa artist Tina Stanley to produce a representation of a cityscape. It is an outdoor installation made of lumber, steel, marble, and detritus. Spanning out across the front yard of the Marfa Open House, the quasi cities took shape like a mosaic. I relied on the natural landscape of the yard to make choices on placement, however, staking out a level line and digging roads into the ground felt as if I was leaving a permanent mark. The time with Marfa Open brought ideas to life, allowed for a continuation of my practice, expanded my repertoire with media, and brought interaction with many incredible people. I am looking forward to presenting an expanded version of the videos, sculptures, and installation in a formal gallery context soon.”

Zach is a recent MFA graduate from Texas Tech University. He currently lives and works from Lubbock, TX as a visual artist and educator. view his project here

Maya Meissner comments about her selection as Reserve Grand Champion Artist of the Year. “I was introduced to Seph and Klaus and the Marfa Open Art Festival through a competition I entered my work into at Cosmos, the book fair associated with the famed photography festival, Les Rencontres de la Photographie in Arles France.  Once in Marfa, with the help of the other generous artists participating in the festival, I built my first solo exhibition of my work from my most recent project, The Cedar Lodge. The Cedar Lodge is first and foremost a photography book that examines my family's close encounter with the Yosemite Serial Killer in the late 1990's. I combine collages of real images related to the story with photographs I took when I returned to the hotel where my family and the victims had stayed, and where the killer lived and worked. Marfa Open gave me the space, time, and materials to show this work in a new way, expanding and challenging how I think about the project. The festival also connected me to the lovely people at Building 98 where I was able to share and sell my self-published newsprint zine which acts as a prequel to my book. One of my favorite things about the festival was getting to meet and collaborate with a wonderful variety of artists from Marfa and abroad. I accompanied local Marfa artist Christine Olejniczak in a performance of her band Electric Dirt, making sound and music through drawing. I got to help Portland-based media-artist Jared Menane film a 3 channel video piece for which I glued various types of candy to his face. I worked with Helio Léon, Spanish photographer/videographer/performer extraordinaire in arranging the prints for his installation, The Purple Room. Photojournalist Stacy Kranitz and I put our heads together in making a zine of her work, pushing through the challenges that come from working in a remote desert town. Collaborations were constant, natural, and ever evolving. It's hard to put into words all that Marfa Open did for me. I do know that in Marfa I have found some lifelong friends and collaborators, and I can't wait to return again someday soon.”

The residency and festival was filled with heart and soul. Our creative playground/art adventure extended into installations, art performances, dinners, and music.

In 2019, Marfa Open plans to host more contemporary projects from Austin’s Museum of Human Achievement; local Marfa artist events; music, based on the photographs of Hiro Tanaka; and Marfa Open residency individual and team projects.

Seph Itz - Founder and Director