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Molly Jo Burke and Nathan Gorgen Are Ready to Explore Boundary Lines

By Katie Fisher, communication, galleries and artist-in-residence coordinator at the Columbus Cultural Arts Center

Artist couple Molly Jo Burke and Nathan Gorgen will be teaming up (along with artists Erin Furimsky and Katie Davis) this January at the Cultural Arts Center’s Main Gallery in the exhibition Boundary Lines, opening Jan. 7, 2022. We chatted with the duo about their work.

Katie: How long have you been creating, and what first got you into it?
Molly: I started to really feel comfortable making three-dimensional work in high school. I was lucky to be at a school that had a ceramics program, and several advanced art courses. My teachers encouraged me to pursue something creative in college, and I ended up at Columbus College of Art and Design for my undergraduate degree and The Ohio State University for my Master of Fine Art focusing in glass.

Nate: I’ve been creating my whole life! As a kid I drew constantly, and I really have no memory of any specific initial influence. I would like to mention my uncle, Nicholas Ruth, who is an amazing artist and printmaker, and while he didn’t start my art making, he did show me that it was possible to grow up to be an artist.

Katie: How do you describe your work to newcomers?
Molly & Nate: We have been lucky to be able to make work that we enjoy conceptually and aesthetically. The glass Molly creates focuses on nature and draws inspiration from plants, coral and architecture formed by living organisms. Nathan is interested in how the traditional use of a given product or process can be subverted while still maintaining a functional object. Materials may turn out not to be what they initially seem; their original nature or purpose obscured by unexpected context. As collaborators, we combine our art making interests in the sculptures, 2D works and furniture that we create together – reusing materials left over from our individual practices and also items abandoned by our children, into the art work. Themes of landscape, play, domesticity and architecture abound.

Katie: Who are some of your inspirations?
Molly: I am always inspired and influenced by my surroundings, and observations of everyday life, but some artists who I find especially interesting are Do-Ho Suh, Tara Donovan and Mark Dion.

Nate: I’ve mostly been into baroque art lately; artists like El Greco and Bernini (as much for his architecture as his sculptures). Some contemporary artists I admire are Martin Puryear, Fred Tomaselli and Inka Essenhigh.

Katie: What’s on your current playlist?
Molly: Maggie Rogers’ “Light On,” Dua Lipa’s Future Nostalgia album, Ana Tijoux, 1977.

Nate: Mastodon, Baroness, Khemmis, Big Business, Judicator, Rush, Florence and the Machine.

Katie: Who would you like to have dinner with, dead or alive?
Molly: I’m currently pursuing a Ph.D. in arts administration, education and policy at OSU with a focus on artists’ careers, so I would like to have dinner with some sociologists who have written about how artists function – Hannah Wohl, Howard Becker, Gary Alan Fine and Steven Tepper. I would also love to have dinner with Glenn Adamson, who is a curator and writer focused on craft, design and contemporary art.

Nate: David Attenborough!

Katie: What exciting projects do you have coming up in 2022?
Molly & Nate: We are really excited about our group show Boundary Lines with Katie Davis and Erin Furimsky at the Cultural Arts Center that opens Jan. 7, 2022.

Katie: What’s the best thing about the Columbus art scene right now?
Molly & Nate: There is so much to see and do related to art in Columbus – but we have especially enjoyed how the community of artists keeps building, as well as seeing all the artwork popping up around the city such as murals and sculptures.

Boundary Lines opens to the public on Friday, Jan. 7, 2022 from 6-8 p.m. You can learn more about Molly and her work here, as well as Nathan and his work here. To learn more about the Cultural Arts Center, visit our website today.

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