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A Studio Visit with the Belknaps

By Karsten Lund
Sarah and Joseph Belknap’s studio. All photos: Karsten Lund, © MCA Chicago.

About

One of the secret pleasures of producing an exhibition with artists in Chicago is being able to stop by their studio repeatedly as they develop new works. For Sarah and Joseph Belknap, an experimental process is at the heart of what they do, so you never quite know what you’re going to see on a given day. It could be a silicone sculpture fresh out of the mold, a set of color tests, or prototypes testing out a new materials or production methods. The photographs here are from earlier in June, as the Belknaps were finishing some of the “moon skin” sculptures and planning out the large installation for their MCA exhibition, which opens October 11.

Sarah and Joseph step out into the yard outside their workshop, which is guarded by a large gray planetoid, a remnant from an earlier project.
A moon-like mold peaks out from behind a table, the starting point for a new sculpture. The artists hand-carved its cratered surface out of polystyrene foam and later cast it in silicone.
The artists examine a pair of prototype molds, each one testing the properties of a slightly different material. This is an early step in the long process of making a large installation for their exhibition.
A close-up view of a hollow silicone “skin” hanging on the wall. This textured sculpture is modeled after one of the exoplanets that were recently discovered past the edge of our solar system.
Printouts of images of the moon and various meteorites are taped to the studio wall for reference.
Ongoing dialogue is a fundamental aspect of the artists’ collaborative process. Here Joseph outlines an idea.
Samples of mica flakes and aluminum powder in small bags. The Belknaps mix in additives like these to their silicone material in order to change the texture and feel of a sculpture.
A handful of reflective mica flakes.
Sarah in the studio. In the background is a dark gray Deflated Moon Skin sculpture.
A sandblaster in the Belknaps’ studio, just one of the many pieces of specialized equipment they used to produce their work.
A view of the moon taped to the studio wall, depicting the side that always faces towards Earth.
Remix with Rosas