Interview: Martin Hundley

What is your goal as an artist? Why do you create?

Music has always been at the center of my life. By playing I’m able to express my experience and connect with others, which brings me closer to the people and ideas that I love.

What is your main/favorite/most often used medium, and why did you choose it?

I play the saxophone, usually in bands of three to six musicians. I compose for these groups, and improvisation is always an element. Sometimes I use field recordings of places or people. I reference the musical traditions that are important to me – the blues, American folk music, Romantic and impressionist classical music, and the jazz avant-garde. I play piano and guitar to learn music from these traditions and develop my own sound. I also enjoy compiling recordings and sharing my favorite music with friends.

When did you begin your study of your art?

Two musicians in my family sparked a curiosity about playing when I was young. My great grandmother was a precise piano teacher who insisted on regular lessons that began when I was about nine years old. My father also played the piano and sang quiet improvised ballads, usually at night over cigarettes and coffee. I watched and imitated them both.

Are you working on a new series/theme now? 

This year I’ve been working on a series of recordings that are based on seasons and places. I’ve also been working on an essay about history, culture, and curriculum in jazz education.

What people or other art influenced your work? Was it positive or negative influence?

Some of the mentors that have guided me in studying jazz and playing the saxophone are Gary Bartz, an amazing musician, Wendell Logan, who founded the jazz studies program at Oberlin Conservatory; and Forest Munden, my high school band director in North Carolina. My brother Elliott is a visual artist who I speak to often about making work. A very short list of musicians and artists that have been important to me recently: Ornette Coleman, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Lester Young, Billie Holiday, Charles Mingus, Gil Evans, Duke Ellington, Ahmad Jamal, Rahsaan Roland Kirk, Eddie Harris, Dexter Gordon, Sonny Rollins, Donald Byrd, Miles Davis, Maurice Ravel, Claude Debussy, Steve Reich, Levon Helm, Neil Young, Townes van Zandt,
Blaze Foley, Bob Dylan, Tom Waits, Jean Michel Basquiat, Jackson Pollock, and Marcel Duchamp.

Do you do any kind of research for your art?

Of course, I listen to music all the time and read about the artists, history, and aesthetics that I’m interested in. I think of my other activities as a kind of research too – teaching, studying, writing, going to museums and shows, talking to other musicians and artists, and spending time in many different kinds of places.

How has the experience at Hambidge affected you or your work?

My time at Hambidge has been reflective. The setting and culture is quiet, which provides a nice
opportunity to spend time alone with the work and think through projects for the future.

What advice would you give to future residents at Hambidge?

Go swimming!

If you could learn to do anything with a guarantee that you would not fail, what would you pick?

Time travel.

What are your top ten favorite things?


What was your favorite subject in school?


Favorite food?

Coconut water.

Tell me one random fact about you that I never would have guessed.

No way!


Martin Hundley Martin_Hundleyis a saxophonist, composer, and educator living and working in New York City. Born in North Carolina, Martin attended Interlochen Arts Academy and holds a Bachelor of Music in jazz studies and saxophone performance from Oberlin Conservatory, where he studied with Gary Bartz, Donald Byrd, and Wendell Logan. He earned a Masters degree in arts education from Harvard University, focusing on topics of research, advocacy, and practice in music education, concept-based approaches to teaching improvisation, and promoting cultural exchange through performance. Martin has worked at Jazz at Lincoln Center with Artistic Director Wynton Marsalis to produce the national Essentially Ellington High School Jazz Band Program and other resources that engage students, teachers, and public audiences. He has performed at the Museum of Modern Art PS1, Dizzy’s at Lincoln Center, The Knitting Factory, South Eastern Center for Contemporary Art, North Sea and Montreaux Jazz Festivals, and has also worked at The Special Music School (P.S. 859), The Jazz Standard, and Saturday
Night Live. His playing appears on recordings featured in an exhibition titled The Record: Contemporary Art and Vinyl, organized by the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University and presented at the Institute of Contemporary Art in Boston. During 2011-12, Martin was named an alternate candidate in the Fulbright competition for study and research in the Netherlands and is an artist in residence at The Banff Centre for the Arts, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, and The Hambidge Center for the Creative Arts & Sciences.


Interview: Brian Hitselberger

What is your goal as an artist? Why do you create? Photo on 6-23-12 at 12.02 PM

There are always gaps of varying distances between the ways in which we apprehend the world and the language we use to explain it. I prefer to think of my work as filling or narrowing these distances. Alternately, Wallace Stevens once wrote about the role of imagination as “pressing back against the pressure of reality.” I like this idea very much – that the work of the artist is made in direct response to, or in direct defense against, the rest of the world.

What is your main/favorite/most often used medium, and why did you choose it?

Like many artists I bounce around quite a bit depending on the project, but these days I’m always drawing. This is actually somewhat new – I became really interested in making works on paper in graduate school, and discovered a deep affection for the process then, whereas before I’d always utilized drawing as a means to an end. I’m a paper fanatic too, so I spend a lot of time eking out material nuances of various drawing materials on different surfaces.

When did you begin your study of your art?

I showed up to the party later than most. I went to a small liberal arts school in New Orleans, and spent a couple of semesters experimenting… I was — for the first time in my life — really in love with what I was learning, but I wanted something more physical than a 15-page paper to show for it. Studio Art courses offered this possibility, in that they changed up the game – listen to lectures, read assigned readings (or rather, gain material facility through practice), conduct independent research, and then create a unique object that synthesizes all of this. It was exactly what I was looking for, in that at the end of the process, I was left with an object that somehow marked the acquisition of knowledge in physical space. Furthermore, it seemed to be the best way to bring together all of the things I was interested in.

Are you working on a new series/theme now?

I am. I’ve been making a lot of work recently on the relationship between solitude and insight – or, more precisely, of privacy and thought. It started as a reaction against the increasing connectedness we experience through technology. The work itself is very quiet and made quite slowly, shifting between large drawings based on perceived phenomena, and small diptychs based off of the notebooks of great scholars. I’m becoming more interested in different forms of connectedness available to us – those that occur in moments of great internal discovery while conducting the most regular of activities: writing, sleeping, staring out a window, driving, running, listening. By way of further explanation: the kind of experiences that form the centerpieces of most of Virginia Woolf’s writing.

What people or other art influenced your work? Was it positive or negative influence?

I am very impressionable and have to be careful about what I take in, particularly in periods of productivity. I do have certain champions or personal heroes whose work and practice I consistently look towards for various kinds of inspiration – I feel like I gain something very specific from each of them, so they’re somewhat all over the place. I respond very deeply to the technique and virtuosity of Rembrandt, Giotto, Pierre Bonnard, Leonardo da Vinci, Vija Celmins, and Shirazeh Houshiary. However, I have enormous respect for material trespassers like Anselm Kiefer, Paul Thek, Louise Bourgeois or Kiki Smith. I greatly admire the human empathy of political artists like Doris Salcedo, Felix Gonzalez-Torres, Ross Bleckner, Goya or Maya Lin. Writers whose prose and structure have had an influence: Annie Dillard, Wallace Stevens, Clarice Lispector, Virginia Woolf, Ralph Waldo Emerson, Adrienne Rich…. the list goes on and will probably change next week.

Do you do any kind of research for your art?

I’m a big reader. I get very interested in a broad subject, like “translation,” or “privacy,” for example, and want to analyze it from every possible angle. I’ll read fiction, poetry, and hard science with the same level of engagement, not necessarily separating them into hierarchies of truth in my mind. This practice can work against me unfortunately in games of Trivial Pursuit, or quiz nights in bars. But it’s important for me to understand how other people have attempted to interpret or apprehend these broad areas of lived experience; in such pursuits, scientific method or poetics or abstract formal compositions all become equal footholds with which to make sense of the world. I like to listen in on the conversation before jumping right in – it seems somehow polite, and the best possible way to avoid looking like a fool.

Just for fun:

If you could learn to do anything with a guarantee that you would not fail, what would you pick?

Building green homes.

What are your top ten favorite things?

-The night sky.

-Falling asleep while reading.

-Running in the woods.

-Being alone in museums with works of art I admire.

-Galaxie 500’s incredible album, On Fire.

-Teaching and working with my students.

-Meals eaten outdoors.

-Felix Gonzalez-Torres’ candy installations.

-Visiting friends in other cities.

-Hope Sandoval’s voice.

What was your favorite subject in school? Least favorite?

I always loved English class. In P.E., I was usually the kid who “forgot” his gym clothes. This is funny because I actually really like exercise, but I wasn’t into team sports.

Favorite and least favorite food?

Favorite: Shrimp and Grits.

Least favorite: Olives.

Tell me one random fact about you that I never would have guessed.

When I’m at the gym, I listen exclusively to metal, and loudly.

Interview: A.J. Mayhew

A.J. Mayhew is in her second week of residency. She is working on her second novel during her stay at Hambidge.

Why and when did you begin writing?

As a child—second oldest of five—I made up stories and told them to my younger siblings. I had an active imagination, which was not always seen as an asset. I didn’t start writing down my stories until I was in high school, when I found it an enchanting idea that I could be rewarded (by a good grade) for making up stuff. I still have a couple of my stories from high school, with comments by a wonderful teacher who told me I was a writer. I’ve never forgotten Miss Evelyn Baker at Myers Park High School in Charlotte, NC.

What inspired you to write your most recent work?

Both my novels (The Dry Grass of August, published in 2011, and Tomorrow’s Bread, which I’m working on now) are inspired by my memories of growing up in the segregated south of the U.S. It seems that everything I write has as an underlying theme that resistance to change will break us if it doesn’t kill us. Both books are set in my hometown of Charlotte. I moved away from there in 1985, then discovered that all I wanted to write about was Charlotte.

How do you go about researching for your books?

Both for Dry Grass—set in 1954—and Tomorrow’s Bread—set in the mid 1960s—I’ve collected popular magazines of the time (Look, Life, Time, etc); browsing through them gives me a feel for life back then. I use many libraries, including the Carolina Room of the Charlotte Public Library, Perkins Library at Duke, Wilson at Carolina, etc. I’m leery of using the ’net, and I double-check everything I find there. However, the internet has been incredibly valuable in leading me to sources.

Did you base any of your characters on real people?

All my characters are based on real people, that’s the way I write; however, none of my characters is traceable back to a specific person. I observe behavior, someone’s ability to lie without blinking, another person who is possessed of great jealousy, etc. I change physical characteristics, including age, consumption of alcohol, even gender, and, for instance, whether the person has good eyesight or thick corrective glasses. No one has yet said, “That’s me,” about one of my characters, but maybe they wouldn’t tell me if they recognized themselves.

What’s the most exciting part about being a published author?

Meeting people who like my book…that has been a large charge, to use slang from the 50s. What is the hardest part? Writing the next book (for which I’m under contract) while I’m promoting the first one.

Do you have any other books planned in the future?

No, not right now…but I didn’t really plan either of my first two…they just happened.

Which of your stories or characters are your favorite?

From Dry Grass, of course I love Mary and Jubie, all the Watts children, and some of the minor characters, like Uncle Stamus—I became deeply fond of him. I care about all my characters, but in many different ways, of course. Do you dislike any of them? I’m not crazy about Gaither Mowbry from Dry Grass, but can’t help having some compassion for a man who was reared to hate.

What advice can you give to young writers who want to publish their books?

Write. That might seem like a simplistic answer, but you can’t sell a book you haven’t written, and you have to write, write, re-write, revise, write some more. Get into a group of writers (if you’re lucky, you’ll get with writers who are better than you are, and learn from them). Network. Get the agents market book from Writer’s Digest and follow it to the letter…that’s what I did, and I got an agent in five months (that’s lightening speed, by the way).

What are your favorite (and least favorite) foods?

I eat foods that never had a mother or a face (vegetarian, not vegan). I cannot abide sardines or anchovies, and I think cilantro tastes like soap.

Do you have a specific snack that you have with you when you write?

Yuk. Don’t ask that question of a fat woman! She’ll lie.

If you could go anywhere in the whole world, either for a vacation or to live there, where would you go?

I want to see Portugal and southern Africa (my husband has lived in both places, and his stories of them intrigue me). I’ve long wanted to go to Sanibel, FL, which is relatively close, and it’s ridiculous that I haven’t been there…someday.

What was your favorite and least favorite subject in school?

I truly disliked the sciences (chemistry, biology). I loved the arts, like music, drama, literature (of course). I was surprisingly good at math…took all the algebra courses through trigonometry. I have a high school education, and was a poor student…almost didn’t graduate. Had to beg a teacher (I think it was chemistry) to change an F to a D so I could get out, graduate. I took a one-year business course at Lenoir Rhyne College, and became a whiz at typing, shorthand, and accounting, skills that served me well when I had two children by the age of 21, already divorced, desperate for a job.

What book are you reading right now?

 The Art of Fielding, and, on my brand new Nook, Mobi Dick and Great Expectations.


Anna Jean (A. J.) Mayhew’s first novel, The Dry Grass of August, won aj by jmthe 2011 Sir Walter Raleigh Award for Fiction, and is a finalist for the 2012 Book Award from the Southern Independent Booksellers Alliance. A Blackstone Audio book came out in December, and the French translation was published in April. The novel will also be translated into Italian, Turkish, and Norwegian for release in 2013. In February, A. J. was a featured speaker at Southern Voices in Birmingham, AL, along with novelist Scott Turow. Last September, she dined with Governor Beverly Perdue at a gathering to honor North Carolina authors, and is now working on her next novel, Tomorrow’s Bread.

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Interview: Jessica Whol

Jessica Whol just finished her Hambidge residency last week.


What is your goal as an artist? Why do you create?

I strive to make engaging work that evokes a response from viewers, and hope that the work encourages viewers to question the subjects that I explore. I create because I have to. It’s a way of expressing myself and dealing with complex, personal situations in a productive manner.

What is your main/favorite/most often used medium, and why did you choose it?

I often work in many different media at the same time, but on different works. I draw with pen and ink, embroider on found photographs and lately have been making installations and sculptures with synthetic hair extensions.

When did you begin your study of your art?

Like most artists, my interest and education started as a child, but formally, high school and college were the times when I began to take it very seriously.

Are you working on a new series/theme now?

Yes. The newest experiment (from my Hambidge residency actually) is drawing on magazine advertisements from the 1960s. It’s dark and evocative of troubling forces lurking in the home or within relationships.

What people or other art influenced your work? Was it positive or negative influence?

The person (artist) who has inspired my work the most, besides my family and my upbringing, is Gregor Schneider. I’m also influenced by Freud’s Uncanny and The Gothic. I would say all are positive influences.

Do you do any kind of research for your art?

Yes. As mentioned above, I’m currently reading a lot about The Gothic, and am also interested in suburban developments, particularly as it relates to residential structures.

Just for fun

If you could learn to do anything with a guarantee that you would not fail, what would you pick?

Fall in love and stay that way.

What are your top ten favorite things?


My dog

Making art


Artwork so profound it makes me cry


Amazing meals with good company

Dance movies

Ceramic cups, plates, pots, etc.

My collection of found photographs

What was your favorite subject in school? Least favorite?

Favorite: Drawing. Least favorite: History (but not Art History, I liked that).

Favorite and least favorite food?

Favorite: My grandma’s chicken soup. Least favorite: Hard boiled eggs.

Tell me one random fact about you that I never would have guessed.

I love rap music.


Thanks Jessica! Visit Jessica’s website at


Artist Statement

I make the invisible visible.

My practice of investigating and scrutinizing people, objects and domestic environments reveals hidden metaphors and interpretations of that which we cannot, or choose not, to see.

Particularly drawn to portraiture and manicured homes, I exploit the uncanny while subverting domestic representations of perfection and happiness.

Conceptual strategies such as repeating, simulating, concealing, mutating and erasing induce a sense of discomfort. By employing tight boundaries, clean edges and sickly smiles, secret interiors are protected from the outside world.

These protective barriers are created through the use of obsessive mark making. While subtly implying that my subjects are flawed, the handmade mark in this work is evidence of our human condition—that is, we are not as perfect as we may seem. Whether painting, drawing or sewing, I make marks by hand to acknowledge and embrace the imperfections in our society’s relentless pursuit of composure