Todd Stewart & Katie Lloyd are Familiar Workshop, a collaborate artist team here in Charlotte, NC. That’s a simple way to describe two people who create an incredibly vast and complex variety of creative and viewer engaging work. Both completed undergraduate BFAs from Winthrop University, and Masters degrees at Clemson – Todd earning a MFA in sculpture, and Katie, an MLA in Landscape Architecture.
They both work full time in their fields – Katie as a Landscape Designer/Architect and Todd as a Public Art Administrator – in addition to creating their own work. (We don’t think these guys ever sleep!) You can find Katie’s individual work here and you will probably remember Todd’s work from last year’s Goodyear project. This summer they are working together on several projects at C3 labs and McColl Center for Art and Innovation, so this interview focuses on the collective aspect of their work together. Oh yeah, also they are married and adorable. We are really excited to see the work you guys are doing unfolding on the Charlotte landscape!
HCLT: Describe yourself in three words.
KT: Adventurous, Pragmatic, (Combative: in terms of our working relationship)
HCLT: When did you realize you were an artist [team]?
KT: Collaborations aren’t usually easy, but we’ve had a strong desire to work together since studying sculpture together at Winthrop University. We find ourselves brainstorming with one another all the time. Our interest in each others practice naturally evolved into us collaborating on projects. When Katie decided to study landscape architecture, we decided that we could expand our studio practice/collaboration to include planning work that provides an artistic approach to placemaking.
HCLT: Who or what inspires you artistically?
KT: Here are some current and ongoing inspirations:
- The Talking Heads
- Abandoned buildings
- The view of Table Rock from a hay field in Liberty, SC
- John Chamberlain’s sculptures
- Shaun Cassidy
- Our dogs
- Tactical urbanism
- The new Christo installation in Italy
- Public meetings
- The way chickens run
- Gym equipment
- Olafur Eliasson’s latest installations at Versailles
- West Charlotte
HCLT: Tell us about your current body of work?
KT: Lately, we have been responding to sites and situations that allow us to work together on installations that encourage participation. We are also currently working on a new body of work at the McColl Center, to begin to address issues of community identity through creative wayfinding.
HCLT: What do you think is the most valuable art experience in the Carolinas right now?
KT: We are most excited about the art experiences that communities throughout the Carolinas are developing for artists and by artists. Goodyear Arts, BOOM, No Vacancy, The Dwelling CLT, NC Wall Poems, Union Shop Studios, and Art Bomb (Greenville, SC) are all super valuable not just in terms of exciting experiences, but how they solidify the artistic communities of the Carolinas.
HCLT: What is your number one art piece/place/event in this area?
KT: Cascade by Jean Tinguely is an amazing art experience. It was one of Tinguely’s last large-scale commissions and it is stunning. There is something new to discover about it every time you experience it. The Sol Lewitt drawing that is also in the same lobby (Carillon Tower at 227 W. Trade St.) helps to make this a great art space in Charlotte.
HCLT: What book is on your nightstand right now?
T: The Secret History by Donna Tartt, Dune for the millionth time, and The Complete Poems of William Carlos Williams.
K: The Art of the Commonplace by Wendell Berry and Bossypants by Tina Fey [leftover from vacation, and because I like to laugh].
HCLT: Best meal in the Charlotte area?
KT: You can’t go wrong with anything from BEAN. Guilt free comfort food.
HCLT: Where can we see your work?
KT: Look us up at www.familiarworkshop.com. This summer, we are participating in No Vacancy, an installation that fosters collaboration between performance and visual artists. We each designed a room for visitors and visiting performers to interact with. The show is up until the end of August at C3 Labs.
HCLT: What is up next?
KT: Right now we are looking to extend our collaboration to other artists and designers. We are beginning a number of temporary public art projects that we hope to install throughout Charlotte sometime in the near future.