Artist Eileen Kornreich discusses her Watermill Center residency

Branching Out




Eileen Kornreich. Independent/The Watermill Center

The Watermill Center continues “In Process,” an ongoing series engaging the community directly with its artists-in-residence through open rehearsals, workshops, artist talks, and studio visits. Six artists from around the world, with very unique backgrounds, gather in a common space with an open invitation to the public to observe, learn, and interact with each other.

Colectivo Zoológico, of Chilean and French descent, focuses on man and woman’s place in today’s capitalism through audiovisual technology; Bridgehampton native Laurie Lambrecht works in fiber and photography; sculptor Toni Ross moves between elemental geometries and site-responsive installations; Maya Watanabe joins from Peru with her video installations; Agustina Muñoz traveled from Argentina to showcase solo performances in tandem with collective pieces to express a view on heritage, desire, destiny, and memory.

Indy caught up with New York City resident Eileen Kornreich, who has deep roots with the East End community. Kornreich has dedicated years of her time helping to fund artist-run non-profits.

How did you become involved with The Watermill Center?

My late husband, Bill Kornreich, and I met Bob Wilson in 1993 at the first benefit for his then future center. I encouraged my husband to join the Byrd Hoffman board of directors, which he served as treasurer, and a member of the executive board for 15 years. We were dedicated supporters of the center and its artists, from its early days to present.

You’ve worked on the East End and across New York City helping artists. How does the culture differ between the two areas? How have you seen it change?

Both have their share of positive and negative aspects for working and ‘not-presently-producing-work’ artists. Some practices require execution by a group; some visual artists and writers work alone. All require a supportive community in realizing shows or staging productions. They all require a community of audiences that attend galleries and productions. In the past five years or so, the East End has certainly stepped up its game in supporting the growth and serious scholarship for artists of all practices.

Will you be working on anything in particular at The Watermill Center?

I started my residency at The Watermill Center with the mindset to continue the body of work I’m involved with in the city, our mortality and how we as humans let it shape or alter our environment, trees in particular. Once I stepped into the WMC, it was like I had never been here before. I dove into Robert Wilson’s 8000-volume library and most especially, his in-house digital library.

Along with that research I photographed some of the vast collection here of masks, photographs, and statuary. From these photographs I made collages that I referenced, along with observation, developing or shall we say “In Progress” — making a left turn, and doing so have started a new body of work.

This week I’ve been referencing Robert Wilson and David Byrne’s 1988 “The Forest” in my last few drawings. I’m reading the legend of Gilgamesh and both artist’s writings of making the production hoping to realize this topic in paintings I will produce while in residency at the School of Visual Arts this summer.

You’re rooted in the idea, literally, of trees and death. What’s the interconnection? Do you depict a certain type of tree?

There are a few trees in a historical New York City park I am referencing that are over 300-400 years old. I am most interested in what they have witnessed and how the violence, naturally or unnaturally, has pruned and groomed them. The park depicted was used as a potter’s field and organized church cemeteries in the 18th and 19th centuries. Most people think the cemeteries are the ones with gates and drives and headstones. We have centuries of people underneath our feet when we walk to the grocery store to get that quart of milk.

What park or nature preserve do you find inspiration in?

When walking in New York, and I walk a lot in New York, I spend time in any park that is closest to where I am at the moment. New York has wonderful parks, and the little community gardens that exists still are terrific. In East Hampton, I have a dear friend who is my early morning walking buddy; we walk miles and pick up garbage. When I want to be alone, I walk to and walk around LongHouse.

The Watermill Center is located at 39 Water Mill Towd Road in Water Mill. Learn all about its special programs at www.watermillcenter.org.

nicole@indyeastend.com