Corkey Sinks, the newest resident artist at Crosstown Arts, is a recent Memphis transplant. Sinks moved to the South six months ago from Chicago, where she studied and practiced fiber- and material-based arts. Her intricately patterned quilts, weavings, and drawings reference "conspiracy and culture-building and science fiction." Past works by Sinks range from a book that she calls her "demon baby project," for which she researched turn-of-the century myths about paranormal children, to a series of cardboard crystals that Sinks formed out of recycled material.
When we met at her studio this past weekend, Sinks was in the process of preparing for a new show at the Memphis house gallery Southfork. Several geometric weavings, made using a traditional jacquard loom, hung on a far wall. Despite the weavings' newness, the patterns in the fabric appeared somewhat faded, as if time had removed some of their detail. "I like all of the metaphors of pattern," Sinks said. "But I also just formally really enjoy a spread of pattern."
Flyer: What do you think draws you to traditional patterning and traditional ways of making?
Sinks: My work has always been about pattern. I have always been interested in the recurrence of things in narrative and the recurrence of images in film. I studied a lot of propaganda and Soviet montage, so the repetition and rapid juxtaposition of images builds meaning. It really is part of what makes us human, that we see patterns in things, regardless of whether they are actually there.
You have made quilts out of plastic as well. Can you tell me how you arrived at that process?
I started making these on an industrial heat press that I had in grad school. I was playing around with plastics, and the result was that it was really flat, and I think that I wanted to be able to work larger than the bed of the press. So I started playing around with a hand iron, and I realized that it took on this more sculptural form. I found that really appealing.
I started making the plastic triangles that make up that quilt to escape my brain and focus on something that I could do with my hands. The process became a system that evoked some kind of paranoid ritual but could create a great output.
Speak more on the cardboard crystals.
I was doing my laundry, and I started folding a box of Tide into these shapes. I love these shapes. I'm buying crystals all the time. While I don't really think I believe in them, but yet I think ... "This protects me against vampires. I need it." I have rocks all over my house and workspaces, and beyond their supposed meanings, I love the forms of them.
I hope that in my work, whenever I reference anything that is new age, pyramid-scheme-y, or cult-y, that I am empathetic. I think the desire to have something to belong to, to identify with and truly believe, with all of yourself, is really enviable.
Are the drawings you make on grid paper plans for a quilt or their own thing?
Whenever I am stuck, I am drawing. The drawings can be a finished product or become something else. In one series of drawings, I'm using text that is darker versions of self-help phrases on cross-stitched pillows or inspirational posters. All this work is about trying to have power, whether it is some kind of control over yourself and your life or evoking some kind of spiritual or political power.