Material World

Episode 142 · September 12th, 2020 · 34 mins 10 secs

About this Episode

The materials an artist uses are one of the first things we notice when looking at art—we may see paint, clay, wood, paper, pencil, or intriguing combinations of many materials and processes. Beyond their visual impact alone, materials can also evoke feelings and ideas that add to the meaning of the work. Today we’re going to talk about materiality in art—its impact and the decisions involved in choosing art materials.

As an art term, materiality refers to the importance placed on the physical aspects of a work of art, what it is made with and the ways the artist works with it. What is expressed via the materials and processes used by an artist? How do these materials and processes alone create meaning and impact?

There are many ways that artists engage with materiality in their work. Sometimes the source of the material is emphasized--for example a sculpture made of found objects that themselves have distinct associations. Some artists choose to challenge the traditional heiracrchies of materials, for example using concrete rather than marble or wood in sculpture, or using ephemeral materials that are not meant to hold up over time. Certain materials or processes that have cultural significance such as women's traditional craft are sometimes elevated into a broader context of social commentary. Other times the materials and processes may be obscured so as to lead to a sense of mystery about how an effect was created.

Many artists choose to work with conventional materials in established ways but even so, knowledge of the properties of their chosen media is important. Choosing how we approach materials and processes are choices we make as artists, whether or not we make materiality itself a focus.

Special thanks to Marian Sommers for setting up a monthly donation of $10. Check out her artwork at her website, If you would like your own shoutout on the podcast donate here.

We would like our listeners to know about a big change coming to Squeegee Press, known for its award-winning book, videos, workshops, and tools - all created for artists working with cold wax medium. Rebecca and her partner Jerry McLaughlin have announced that later this month Squeegee Press will become Cold Wax Academy-- and will soon include some exciting new membership features.

As part of this change, their video, Cold Wax Medium: a Video Workshop will become available as streaming content for members only.
This comprehensive video, nearly 7 hours long, covers everything Rebecca and Jerry teach in a 5-day workshop and more. If you prefer to own the video, it's on sale at $250 off from now until the end of September when access will shift to streaming only. To purchase, and for more information, please visit and don't forget to join the mailing list for updates on all the new offerings from Cold Wax Academy.

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