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Q & A with Tyler Macko:
Monks Mound

December 15, 2021

BCE: How do the works start for you? Are there various methodologies for them or do they all start from the same place?

Tyler Macko: Most of the works tend to start around a single object that has a certain weight to it. A kind of intangible presence almost… Where it just shows itself enough to be recognized but doesn't fully reveal everything. Once I find or make the object to start the work, they tend to make themselves in a sort of spiral way. With that initial object at the center.

Detail shot: Impenetrable Haystack, 2021
plywood, acrylic, yarn, latex paint, mud 102.5 x 80″


BCE: Can you talk a little bit about your material-sourcing process? Does one material ever inspire an entire work? And do you consider the sourcing as part of the studio practice or separate? And what is fair game for sourcing materials, i.e. do you lie, cheat, and steal or serve as a diplomat between the outside world and your studio?

TM: One material or object for sure inspires or unlocks entire works. They don't really happen for me without that presence. It kind of feels like you have all the pieces to the game but not the board until then. Certain objects really act as the conduit for all the other stuff to work together. Sourcing is really important to the whole practice. I've learned that I can really only make good works from a place of diplomacy. I can't control this stuff and I maybe just become better at recognizing it.

 Shells, 2021, plywood, acrylic, found objects, 18 x 18"

BCE: Have you ever been to Monks Mound, and how did you first hear of this place?

TM: I have not been to Monks Mound of Cahokia specifically yet. But growing up in Ohio, the mound building culture has always been in the periphery. I probably first heard about Cahokia specifically maybe three or four years ago after reading 1491 for the first time.

BCE: How do these larger historical narratives fit with your personal narratives (family, place, or the tribes you have and do belong to)?

TM: Understanding what happened before has always seemed to be the only way for me to help my over-analysis of everything. Once I started to try and understand my own place in the infinite it put everyone and everything into that same perspective. It is just my own attempt at trying to understand the absurdity of it all. It's not about me really. My own personal history is only the framework for the bigger concept most of the time.

BCE: How much chaos or things things outside of your control do you allow in your practice? How important is chance or reaction?

TM: None of it is in my control. I just do my best to get out of the way, listen, and be at the right place at the right time.

In the studio making the Pewter Pile print with Tyler.

BCE: Do you see your "art objects" as having a life and history of their own?

TM: Finishing a work is always so odd. It's hard to remember how you got there with the good ones. But something does happen when all these individual objects come together and become one object. Like scanning through nothing but static on the radio then one comes in clear all of a sudden. Everything before just compiled into this one moment.

BCE: Has your time spent in Montana or California affected your practice?

TM: I think Montana has for sure. I like how much you are effected by the elements and the chopping of wood and carrying of water are both a chore and an honor. I try to implement that in my life no matter where I'm at, but the landscape out there seems to help a lot. I feel really small in Montana and I like that.

 Tyler in Montana

BCE: Do you think differently about two-dimensional work, something like the screen print (Pewter Pile), when most of your work is rather three-dimensional and collage assembled?

TM: When we made those prints at the studio in Montana and were done with 12 works in 24 hours, I felt like I was cheating and needed to do more. I need to work on that. Everything can still be in there.

BCE: How do you recharge as an artist?

TM: Go on a hike and try to not think.

Pewter Pile Print, acrylic and enamel silkscreen print, Edition of 12, 44 x 30.5"