JC: How do things change when working with a living artist?
SN: Working directly with artists is compelling for a variety of reasons. For one, I am an artist myself and enjoy treating frame design as an extension of artistic practice. The way we work at Bark to conceive, design, and craft frames for artists goes in tandem with an artist’s idea of their work and how it should be presented. It can be an immensely creative and informative process, for the frame designer and the artist. Artists are almost always interested in knowing the technical details of framing. As a result, frame designs for artists can be very inventive and challenging (which makes the whole process more fun).
Over the years I have worked here I have been introduced to the work of many artists and their various frame preferences. Some may want natural materials and hardwoods with basic finishes to reflect the piece, others may want unconventional matting colors, and some might want the frame to be consistent with a larger museum or gallery installation. We try to envision the entire scope of the artist’s immediate project, and with enough foresight, we think about an artist’s trajectory with regard to framing. Should different bodies of work have different frame styles? How lasting is the design? Of course, styles and trends always change (this too includes framing), but as preservation framers we are constantly researching the best materials and conservation practices to put them to practice in our frame designs. Preservation and best practices can influence frame design, but we work to happily marry preservation and aesthetics.
We have framed the work of many artists of my generation, including colleagues of mine from graduate school. Framing the work of contemporary artists is a legacy of the company. Jed [Bark, President of Bark Frameworks] started framing in New York by way of his own artistic career and his acknowledgement of the shortcomings of frame design in the 70s. Being able to offer artists frames that matched the vision of their work was a new proposition. Bark designers have had the opportunity to work with numerous established living artists, including: Jasper Johns, James Siena, Joel Shapiro, Brice Marden, Mel Bochner, Roni Horn, and Gregory Crewdson.