Molly Bounds: voicing rare stories in normative culture through narrative sequencing within comics and zine culture

Collaboration With Caleb Hahne, for Co-Lab, a Group Show at Athen B Gallery in Oakland, CA.

Molly Bounds is a printmaker and illustrator living in Denver. Her prints explore how power, authority, and the structural training of doubt can undermine those who lack agency in determining their futures. Influenced by aesthetics and narrative sequencing within alternative comics and zine culture, she aims to emulate others who have used zines as a forum of dissemination of subjective experience, in order to voice stories which are rarely shared in normative culture.

We were delighted to engage in a conversation with Molly Bounds about her work and inspiration. Read more about Molly’s collaborations with other artists, her thoughts on the recent group show which she was a part of in Athen B. Gallery, her ideas on how to build relationships with galleries and more!

AMM: Why did you choose to go down the route of printmaking and illustration? What inspired that side of things?

MB: I honestly knew so little about printmaking when I took my first class. The accessibility of it, to make art that was available and distributable to everyone, that was what really convinced me that I was probably a printmaker at heart before I even knew what I was doing. It was really community based. There are often cliques that form between different mediums and majors, but the printmakers would have these print sales that were so loud and broke up the environment, with live printing demonstrations. I was really drawn to how the printmakers could be a resource to other clubs or even the whole school. I’ve always been a fan of collaboration and group projects, so the shoe just fit.

AMM: In your work you explore how power, authority, and the structural training of doubt can undermine those who lack agency in determining their futures. Could you expand a little bit more on your vision and concept?

MB: ‪It’s really about expectations. How expectations come to shape or mold something. Take opening a jar for example. I am rarely asked by people to help them open a jar. When I go to open a jar myself, sometimes I am already in doubt of being able to open the jar, and give up prematurely. However, on the rare occasion when someone else cannot open a jar then asks me to open it, I am confident in my capability, and am almost always able to open the jar of -whatever. So I guess you could say I’m studying this relationship – between expectations, confidence, and ability.

‘Choices’

AMM: The inspiration for your style comes from aesthetics and narrative sequencing within alternative comics and zine culture. Tell us about how you first encountered the comic culture and how it affected your work?

MB: I don’t know what came first, liking comics or liking art. I was surrounded by comics growing up. Gary Larson’s Far Side comics, Matt Groening’s “Life In Hell” and “School is Hell” series, Calvin and Hobbes, and later on, Johnny the Homicidal Maniac in middle school which paved the way for Charles Burns in high school. I was interested in stories being told visually, in sequence. Using a sense of timing to enhance and emphasize certain emotions. And punchlines. I think my art was really snarky and sarcastic for a long time because the comics I liked were dark and funny with main characters that were hard to like. But I stopped trying to be funny with my art a while ago and it was probably a good decision for me.

‘Strong Ladies Mural’

AMM: Female figures are predominant in your work. Would you say your work reveals your personality or that your work is autobiographical?

‪MB: I’d have to agree and disagree with this. It’s more the overlapping of personal and shared experience- and even more so – how many ask that exact question in relation to these shared experiences, ‘is this my personality?’

AMM: Can you explain your process and a typical day in the studio? How important is it for you to have a consistent physical space to work in?

‪MB: The most consistent part of my studio practice is inconsistency. I’m very Adhd and I’m late to everything. Having a constant like a studio in my life is very helpful. The more constants I have in my daily routine, the closer I get to high functioning. Sometimes, I’ll have a really good week- when I get to the studio at the same time everyday and just get straight to work, and then get to bed at like 12. Usually, I am much more preoccupied though. Craigslist is my biggest distraction. Hands down.

AMM: Do you collaborate with other artists from your local artistic community? If so, which collabs were your favorite so far and what was the experience of blending your concept and style into another artist’s work?

‪MB: My favorite collaboration was actually with Caleb, for that “co-lab” show at Athen B. Gallery last year. We had neighbor studios to each other and the way he worked terrified me, in the sense that he would pour hours of meticulous time and detail into something, and the next day it would be fully covered- with a large smear or just totally blacked out. As I was working at a high-stress commercial print shop, this kind of action was lost on me. So of course during our collab, there was a moment like this when we clashed. We knew the piece needed something extra, and before I could stop myself, I let the words “spray paint” leave my mouth. With no pre-meditation of where or what color, he went for it. I shrieked like I saw a ghost. It was really good for me. I had almost forgotten how important it is to have that spontaneity. Commercial printshops can do that to ya.

Collaboration With Caleb Hahne, for Co-Lab, a Group Show at Athen B Gallery in Oakland, CA.

AMM: You’ve just participated in the group show ‘Spectators’ at Athen B Gallery. Tell us about how you were preparing for the show knowing that you would be exhibiting alongside Caleb Hahne’s and Michael Reeder’s work. How did you find the experience collaborating with two other artists?

MB: ‪We discussed a lot with each other: from size of works, how many, ideas and concepts we were playing with, and we all really came back to narrative, identity, and perspective. The one thing we did not really discuss was palette. And that was a road bump. My subtle palette next to Reeder’s highly graphic and bold colors made my paintings look like corpses. But all that did was create a new challenge for installation, how to unify our works which were quite different. We ended up leaving traces of my work in mural form on Reeder’s wall and vice versa. Luckily, playing with layout and toying with installation conventions is something I really enjoy. That challenge was my favorite part of the install.

‘No Messages (Cory At Home)’, acrylic on stretched canvas, 48 x 60 Inches.

‘Waiting For Mother’, acrylic on stretched canvas, 42 x 48 Inches

AMM: If you were to choose to do a long-time residency in any part of the world, which place would you choose and how do you think it may affect your work?

‪MB: I’ve always wanted to do a residency in a highly populated place, like New York or Japan. Maybe I would focus less on individual experience, or the work I make would get busier. I have no idea how it may affect it.

AMM: How do you build relationships with galleries? What would be your best piece of advice to artists who are just starting out and are looking to establish relationships with galleries?

‪MB: Support other artists. Support the galleries showing your favorite work. Good relationships are mostly built from support and authentic, sincere gestures. Make friends, good relationships, honest work, and trust your gut instinct. Your gallery doesn’t need to be your best friend, but it will pay off to be represented by someone who cares about you and your work on a deeper level than its monetary value.

AMM: Do you travel often? What would be your favorite art destinations, either that you have been to or plan to visit? 

MB: ‪I don’t travel often but I’m trying to change that. New York is next on my list. I also really want to go to New Orleans.

AMM: ‪What are your plans for 2017?

MB: Trying to work on more publications. Denver has a need for it, and I have neglected the urge far too long. I just got a risograph that I’m slowly but surely figuring out. There are some things further down the line, but I shouldn’t talk about them until they are closer, I think.

Find out more about the artist: www.mollybounds.com

‘Room with a view’