In the Studio with Martin Antaramian

In January, RAM's Curator of Exhibitions Lena Vigna interviewed RAM Artist Fellowship Recipient Martin Antaramian.

Lena Vigna: Please share the basics of your art career thus far. Education, years working, etc. How long have you been a part of the Racine/Kenosha community?

Martin Antaramian: I’ve enjoyed making work my whole life but I never really considered pursuing it in any kind of professional manner until I got to UW-Parkside. Almost all the art that I had been exposed to making before then was all 2D, which is not my strong suit. I took an intro to 3D design class as a general education credit and just fell in love.  I knew instantly that this is what I was meant to do with my life. I’ve lived in Kenosha my whole life. I love to travel and see the world, but I think Kenosha will always be my home.

Vigna: Would you please describe your work—what materials you use, what subject matters you explore?

Antaramian: Most of my work is wood carving—both furniture and sculpture. One of the main ideas behind my work is to break down the barriers between the two. I like to make furniture that is extremely sculptural in order to point out that just because something serves a purpose doesn’t mean it can’t also be a work of art.

Vigna: How often are you in your studio? Do you work outside of your studio much or at all?

Antaramian: Unless I have special plans to do something, I’m in the studio 7 days a week. I very rarely do any work outside of the studio—with woodworking there is a lot of equipment needed that I don’t have at home. I will sometimes do design work outside the studio but when a single piece takes over 6 months to carve, I’m not designing new pieces all that often.


Vigna: What inspires you most these days? But also what do you go to bed thinking about most nights?

Antaramian: The biggest inspiration for my current work came from a dream I had a few years back. I woke up at 3 am with a vision in my head of a spinning dress carved out of wood. That vision eventually turned into my Cherry Waltz Table. Since then, I have been focused on honing my carving skills so that I can create more and more realistic looking fabric in wood.

Vigna: Why the RAM Artist Fellowship? Since we are midway through the process, can you assess how you are feeling at this point? Are you where you thought you would be? Have your plans changed since the fellowship year started?

Antaramian: I like doing as many local shows as I can. With large work it can be difficult to do shows that are farther away.

I’m feeling pretty good about the piece I’m working on for the fellowship. This one is a fairly large jump in difficulty compared to any of my previous projects and I wasn’t sure if I could even do it. But, really, this kind of challenge is one of the things I enjoy most about my work.

I’m not as far as I had hoped to be but I’m confident I’ll still finish on time. This past summer I had an accident while riding my bike and ended up spraining both my wrists. This left me unable to work at all for 6 weeks after which I could only carve for a few hours a day. But I’m happy to say that I’ve completely healed and I am pushing forward.