Bird Trouble is so pleased to have Chicago artist, Noël Morical, as our Rad + Wild Feature for the month of August! First, lets get to know Noël.
Hey Noël! Tell us about yourself, where you’re from, and where you reside now.
Hello! I am an artist and educator based out of Chicago. I originally hail from Indianapolis, IN. Indy was good to me, it’s a small city, but mighty! I graduated from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2011, and have been in Chicago ever since. I turned 25 this year, and its not so bad.
What does a typical day in the life of Noël look like?
Usually, I wake up and have to immediately eat (or I will doze off), throw something on, wash my face, get a good stretch in, and then ride to work, where I keep the office together and running smoothly as the office manager. I try to squeeze in some Ebay-ing/research on my lunch break. Usually, after the day job, I head to the studio to work, or I head to my groovy after school teaching gig at Marwen. I leave the studio when I get too hungry to carry on, as a general rule of thumb.
Weekends are a bit more exciting.
What kind of wardrobe can I find in your closet if I played in it?
I have a penchant for shift dresses, clear plastic anything, good patterns, and good material, so a fair amount of that! I currently enjoy having a “forcefield”, meaning not a lot of contact with my body. I like to keep things balanced between really loud/textured/patterned vintage statement pieces, minimal, modern separates, and unique silhouettes. I also have my fair share of fun shoes! I still tend to try to wear all the things I like all at once.
What are your earliest memories of being creative?
I grew up around my mom, who at the time was working as a graphic designer, my grandmother, who is still an avid knitter and crafts person, and my great-grandmother, who was a children’s story author and an amazing seamstress. I would have to say creativity has always been an ingrained and supported part of my existence. My mom does have a really epic framed finger painting I did when I was three in her home. It’s pretty good.
What are your ultimate favorite places you’ve traveled to and how have these experiences inspired you?
Everyplace I have been has been kind enough to offer me inspiration and insight, and usually some sort of traditional textile (I collect them as I travel). I am grateful for all the places I have been able to visit, but Sweden holds a huge place in my heart. Mike Paro (artist, collaborator, roommate, partner in crime) and I were fortunate enough to get to meet with a slew of amazing people—from spending time in Jacob Dahlgren’s studio, amongst his striped shirt project and his daughter; to having Stockholm’s fastest messenger hook Mike and I up with bikes and beers; to working with the wonderful Catherine Brieditis and Catherine Evans on their ongoing (and Swedish ELLE decoration design of the year 2014 award winning (!!!!!) project ReRagRug; to fancy drinks and museum hopping with the wonderfully charismatic and highly intellectual Chris Vighagen of MakerCafe—All of our interactions and experiences in Sweden were enriching, personable, insightful, and all-around amazing. The rich design history, cool modern aesthetic, unique fashion sensibility, and delish food didn’t hurt either!
Are there any people or organizations you dream of collaborating with?
This list could go on for days! I would be happy/open to collaborate with anyone—any opportunity is a good opportunity. To name a few and highlight the gambit: Tauba Auerbach, Jessica Stockholder, The Museum of Contemporary Craft in Portland, The Textile Arts Center, ReRagRug, Jonathan Josefsson, Chen Chen and Kai Williams, Opening Ceremony, Weekday, LEGO—again, this could go on infinitely.
What songs or bands are you currently playing on repeat?
I love how the summer merits its own unique music selection—the days are long, nights are crazy,and spirits are high! A little lo-fi, a dash of surf/garage rock, a dash of 50’s/60’s pop, a dollop of soul, and a little weird does it for me!
The Rolling Stones/The Mamas & the Papas/The Strokes/Joy Division/James Brown/Grimes/The Exploding Hearts/Tame Impala/Beach Fossils/Alton Ellis/ Broadcast/ Talking Heads/Blackbird Blackbird/Nina Simone/New Order
Now lets talk about your work!
What inspired you to combine macramé technique with paracord?
I was scanning Ebay in the Fall of 2013, and saw paracord for the first time. I was really interested in how it was photographed on the spool and the patterns the tracers made. I became instantly smitten. Linear material is great because it can be applied in so many ways—it took a fair amount of experimentation to get to macramé. I had to find a technique that fit my basic criteria: A) a semi-repetitive nature B) enough variety and flexibility to manipulate and expand upon C) wouldn’t kill my hands.
What was the first piece you made?
A really basic hanging planter, quickly followed by a much larger four armed hanging piece! I try to practice and understand the techniques before jumping into my own projects.
What’s the longest you’ve spent on one piece?
1 month! Plural/Possessive, a large flat piece measuring 14ftX9ft. I had a lot of help, and I am forever grateful to all the people who lent their hands & time!
Do you sell your work?
Yes! I recently sold a few pieces from a show I was in, and I also do commission work through my website, as well as selling smaller one-offs/wearables at Tusk & UTOTEM in Chicago and She/Folk in Brooklyn.
Describe your design process. Does it start with a sketch, a choice of colors, or do you just go for it?
Everything starts with Ebay—It’s my go-to source for inspiration and material. I use my wishlist as a means of connecting ideas with tangible materials. With the macramé work, I start with pairing cord color/patterns first. Occasionally, I will approach a project concept with a sketch of some sort—sometimes its only a shape! I have learned through making, that the macramé technique lends itself well to organic shapes, and working a less structured manner.
What are some your favorite creative techniques to practice, other than macramé?
In my everyday life, I am an obsessive doodler—my planner acts as sketchbook/ agenda keeper/ journal/rolodex/scrapbook. I have a tendency to aestheticize any space I have to spend time in.
I’d like to work more with ceramic-I enjoy how versatile the processes/uses are. All the ceramic pieces I made in Iceland have been mAde into jewelry that i have been selling-I originally thought they would be beads I incorporated into my work, but I found they worked better as necklace beads.
In my work: I am constantly on the prowl for new techniques and histories to learn! I joke around that my work and I go through intense phases: I find a technique that is interesting, learn about it, learn how to do it, practice it, work it, and then move on when I feel like I have done all I can do with it. I want to get better with resin. I’d like to work more with ceramic. I am interested in exploring micarta, rug punches, and clear acrylic.
Chicago is such an amazing city for artists! How has Chicago supported you and your work?
The community makes the place! I feel like through school and other channels, I have met and befriended so many amazing and talented folks—it’s hard not to get excited by and support their work, endeavors and projects! Its exciting to be part of a larger community that is so intertwined and diverse.
Do you have any plans for your work in the next year you want to share? How about in the next few years?
As of right now, just keep making things that I think/want/need to exist and sharing them with people.
Tell us about your recent traveling experience in Iceland!
By no means am I able to fully address March 2014-Iceland is a stellar place! I still feel like the month Mike & I spent there was all a dream! The landscape is unparalleled—the array of geological/geographical phenomena in one place is truly unique and astounding. The moss covered lava fields,geysers, geothermal pools (naturally occurring and man made), black sand beaches, glaciers, Hekla (an active volcano due to erupt while we were there), all added to the ancient kinetic energy that permeates the island. Since so much of the work we did while in residency focused on being in/part of the landscape, I can’t help but bring those aspects up first. We lucked out the month of our residency and shared a big communal apartment with a group of amazing and talented artists from all over-somehow we all got along and became family. I still miss breakfast hour with the wonderful women I had the pleasure of befriending in March! The weather was utterly unpredictable, as we found while we made/installed our site specific pool rug net-It would be windy, then rain, hail, snow, then the sun would come out for a little bit, and then the cycle would start over again! There were no encounters with elves, just hitchhikers, a former member of Sigur Rós, a lot of epic Lopi sweaters, and the occasional pony. The Roni Horn Vatnasafn (Library of Water) was a huge highlight, both for the Library itself and the trek out to it. We ate as many sweet treats and oddities as we could, the infamous Hákarl (fermented Greenland shark) included —We actually brought some back to Chicago with us!
Do you have any exciting collaborations or events coming up?
Mike Paro & I are continuing our collaborative practice, as well as our individual practices. We are both very excited to be working with our friend Jana Kinsman of Bike-A-Bee to create beehives and swarm boxes for next Spring! Hopefully there will be more collaborating opportunities on the horizon! I am excited to announce that I will be exhibiting new work at Slow this November with the wonderful Max Garett, and also at Faber&Faber in December! I will continue to sell small work/wearables through Tusk & UTOTEM in Chicago and She/Folk in Brooklyn. I will be collaborating with Tusk to do some window displays in 2015! There may be an opportunity to bring my work back to Indianapolis at The Harrison Center for the Arts in 2015, but we will see! I am very excited and look forward to making a ton of new work before the year is out, I just have to take it all one step at a time!
———————– To read more interviews for The Rad & The Wild series, make your way here. Thanks for hangin’ around. – Alexz