I’ve been hearing about Invisible Dog—a multi-floor interdisciplinary arts center, filled with art studios, galleries, and event space—for a while, and I was really excited when Ian Trask, the center’s first artist-in-residence, invited me out to the opening for the group show Work/Space, to meet with him and see the place.
Named for the toy this repurposed factory used to produce, Invisible Dog was started by Lucien Zayan, who saw the abandoned factory and fell in love with it. “When I saw the building,” he told me, “the idea of creating an art center with studios and event space came to me.” So he met the owner and convinced him to go along with the idea. “And he was crazy enough to follow me!”
Lucien’s main goal is to support emerging artists from all over the world, and he says there’s always a link from one show to the next. “One artist usually inspires me for the next show. They give me an idea that makes me meet other artists.”
Ian’s art is often interactive, and we sat on one of his pieces while we did our interview.
brooklyn spaces: How did you get involved with Invisible Dog?
Ian: I was part of a group show here run by Recession Art. I met Lucien that weekend, and he liked my art, and he kind of let me start hanging out in the basement. At the time it was filled with decades worth of old factory stuff, like floor-to-ceiling stacks of spools of colored elastic, buckets of belt buckles, all these materials that could generate inspiration for the right people.
brooklyn spaces: You’re the space’s first artist-in-residence, right? Did they make the program just for you?
Ian: Yeah, it hadn’t really been figured out. There were really no terms, except that, if he let me use the found materials, I would make a piece to give back to the space.
brooklyn spaces: What was the experience of being the artist-in-residence like?
Ian: It was incredible, right from the very first day. Lucien and I had been talking about how I might start using the materials in the basement, and then I just came one day and he was like “Here’s a key.” I figured I might as well show that I wanted to be here, so I went down to the basement and started working. I came back upstairs after a while, and there was a girl giving a cello performance, which was great. I went back downstairs for an hour, came back up, and there was a bar set up and people partying. Every time I came up there was something else going on. I was like, “How’s this even happening? What is this place?”
brooklyn spaces: Do you have a particular fond memory from your experience here?
Ian: The people have been a lot of fun. I’ve had access to a wealth of information. And the exposure the residency has offered me is amazing. I met a guy this weekend who runs a group called Figment, and he said he could get me into that show. Plus I’ve done fun things, like Lucien asked me to create something for a kids’ art fair, which was run by the bilingual elementary school down the street. They wanted to have art-making sessions where the kids could go home with a project, so I made pieces for them to make small caterpillars out of cardboard, yarn, and shredded paper. It was pretty fun.
brooklyn spaces: Has the residency given you the opportunity to explore your art in new ways?
Ian: Oh yeah. This piece we’re sitting on, it’s the first time I’ve done anything interactive with cardboard, and I got a really great response.
brooklyn spaces: Did people sit and stomp on the art?
Ian: All day long. I have pictures of people of every age stomping on it, lying on it, little kids were running and jumping on it. I had originally wanted to create the piece standing upright, and at like midnight two days ago, I tried to stand it up and it all just exploded. I had to do it all over. And as kind of a second option I decided to let people walk on it, and it turned out to be a much better idea. So, you know, small discoveries like that. It was just a really nice fellowship. Plus I’ve developed a really nice friendship with Lucien. He continues to push me, tries to get me involved in other projects. So obviously it’s gone beyond just my twelve-month term. It’s propelled me along my artistic journey.