Monday, July 18, 2011

It's All My Fault

I've been thinking about responsibility lately, and how the acceptance or denial of it can have both far-reaching and intimate consequences. Words On Shirts Project comes down—in essence—to personal responsibility for a commitment given through words, and how those words align with or depart from actions.

It's All My Fault is an art that I've been playing with since 2010. The pronoun is always an ambiguous player without its previously established context, and I like how many interpretations and reversals can be had from three words and a contraction. What is "it?" What is "all?" Who is "my?"

I had the labels made last spring, but then waited to accumulate enough clothing items to donate en masse to a thrift store. Now, they're finally out there. Smyrna Thrift Store in Smyrna, GA to be exact. There are some 10-odd XS female articles on the racks. If you have any clothing you'd like me to tag with a label before you donate, let me know.

Think you can find them? Cheap art, if nothing else.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Proposal accepted for 2011 Art on the BeltLine

Concept rendering for Musical Landscapes
My temporary public-art proposal for the 2011 Art on the BeltLine, Musical Landscapes, has been accepted by the selection committee. I'm very excited to be a part of this project!

It was inspired by childhood memories of clacking sticks against fences as I ran along them.

Excerpts from my proposal's statement:

Concept Statement
A series of vertical tubes line a length of BeltLine trail. Walkers, runners, or bikers may use either their hands or provided sticks to strike the tubes as they pass by. The tubes are cut to different lengths and tuned to specific pitches.
Musical Landscape is a participatory site-specific installation, where a series of vertical hollow tubes are cut to reflect the skyline behind them, be it natural or urban. By adjusting tube lengths, they can be tuned to the closest pitch in a harmonious musical scale. The tubes then become a musical instrument, tuned to the local environment, and participants can “play the landscape” that surrounds them.
Concept and Goals
As a visual artist and musician, I am endlessly fascinated by the acoustical properties of materials and how they are directly affected be their environment. Steel formed into a string and attached to a cello has a very different sound when struck than a steel fence post driven into concrete, yet both are musical in their own way. Musical Landscape is an attempt to make audible the beauty inherent in a visual landscape while simultaneously evoking childhood memories of clacking sticks against fence-posts as we ran past them, seeking youthful adventure.
The musical pitches of each installation would reflect its surrounding environment. City skylines might evoke a bustling major-key tonality, while residential neighborhoods may elicit a more serene minor key.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

My medal design for Atlanta BeltLine Running Series selected for Eastside 10K race

My winning submission 3D rendering. Though this text says Southwest 5K,
the design will be modified and the medal will be for the Eastside 10K.
Yesterday, despite near disaster thanks to Kinkos, a BeltLine committee selected my design for the Eastside 10k Running Series race on December 3, 2011. Chris Wright's design was selected for the Southwest 5K.

The medals will be given to the 1st, 2nd and 3rd place winners in each age group and for male and female categories, 66 medals total. They will be cast in iron.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Art From Letters Form Words On Shirts. Call for participation volunteers!

[Update: Project is live! Participants still needed!]


New Public Participation Project

Hello! Just a quick note to announce my new interactive performance project with the working title Words On Shirts. I'm looking for people to participate in Atlanta, GA, or anywhere else. The basic project description is listed below (subject to change):

Art From Letters Form Words On Shirts.

  1. I'm looking for volunteers in the Atlanta area or anywhere in the world for a new participatory performance project. I'm asking participants to wear a TShirt (preferably, I can paint a letter onto a shirt you already own. Doesn't matter what's already on it. See the images below.) with a single letter or punctuation mark on it for at least three weeks, likely longer (we look to be well on the way to getting the optimal 63 people, which means 63 days). The number of days depends on how many people volunteer (one day per person). You can wash the shirt, wear it over other shirts etc., but the letter needs to be visible for at least five hours per day. (The five hour minimum is to accommodate those with inflexible dress codes in their day jobs etc. If at all possible, the shirt should be worn during as many waking hours as possible.) If you can provide your own shirt, please say so in the comments section of the form below.
  2. The letters form an initial sentence with a negative connotation or idea about art (the sentence is unknown to the participants). If you choose to participate, each day of the performance you will take a self portrait (or have someone snap a picture of you) with a camera (cell phone, digital, analog, disposable camera), showing yourself wearing the letter shirt. There is a Flickr Group at where participants can upload the daily images (or they can be emailed to me for those without Flickr accounts). 
  3. At the end of the performance, each participant rearranges the letters (logistics to be determined) from one day to create a new sentence or phrase, thereby transcending the initial negative idea. However, participants are not limited in the content of their new message in any way. You may use all of the letters, or some of the letters, but you may not add letters outside those given. Additional details will be sent to participants once all slots are filled.

Join The Project

If you're interested in participating are are not already on the mailing list, please sign up below. If you are on the mailing list already, email me and I will delete your old entry so you can sign up with the form data.

Please also repost the following link on your walls and twitter feeds and your friends' walls and feeds if you think they might be interested in participating: I'm looking for at least 30-60 people (the initial sentence requires 63 people). The more people, the longer the sentence can be, and the greater the range of transformative possibilities. If more than the needed amount sign up, I can start a second project with a new sentence.

An example of how the letter can be painted over existing shirt designs.

Funding And Venues

This project is all about community, so I'm funding the project DIY through donations and a Kickstarter campaign (details to come, there will be perks!). I'm also looking for a venue to showcase the final exhibit. If you are in a position to help with either please contact me at
Again, if you'd like to be kept informed about the process of this project or would like to volunteer to help with logistics or to participate, please sign up to the mailing list below or email me.

Thanks! Nathan

[Please note, that signing up does not guarantee a place in the project, it places you on the interest list. Slots are limited and will be filled on a first-come, first-served basis. Once all slots are filled there will be a waiting list. If there are any dropouts, those highest on the wait list will be notified and given the option to participate.]


Sunday, April 3, 2011

Blood Brothers FAQ


I thought I'd answer a few frequently asked questions about the Blood Brothers performances.

Q: What's the deal with this whole thing?
A: I'm exploring the nature of constructed bonds, and how families are built.

Q: Why?
A: I want to answer this one with a "why not?" but I realize that's not terribly useful. I'm using my personal biographical history as a springboard to larger issues and themes.

Q: What biographical history?
A: When I was five, my father (who had raised me from before I could form lasting memories) and biological mother married, and my father wanted to adopt me. Massachusetts state law wouldn't allow a child to be adopted who had a legal guardian, so my mother had to give me up to the state. For about fifteen minutes or so while paperwork was being filled out and signed I was legally an orphan. I waited out in the hall. Then both parents adopted me. I received a new birth certificate, name and social security card. I had to become a new person for the law of society to legally recognize our pre-existant familial bonds. I challenge the conflict of nature versus nurture. Nature and nurture coexist.

Q: Why don't you use real blood?
A: This is probably the most asked question. The short answer is that it would destroy the work. Real blood signifies biological bonding, and I'm exploring constructed or non-genetic bonding. I'm building my own Family Tree. I break down the ingredients of fake blood (the "traditional" recipe of corn syrup, corn starch and food coloring) and assign each a familial role: Mother, Father, Maternal Ancestor, Paternal Ancestor, and water for purity.


Q: What happens to me if I participate in the bonding ritual? Will I be cut?
A: No cutting. You'll have to participate to know what really happens. The experience is different for each person. I'm just a reflecting mirror, you take out what you put in.

Q: What's with the tickets?
A: The tickets are dated and individually numbered. Your name is filled in on each half and once the bonding ritual is complete we each sign in duplicate with a bloody thumbprint. I get one half, and you get the other. You are now part of the Family, and are connected to all the other Brothers who have come before you. There will be perks in the future for ticket-holding Brothers.

Q: Can I participate more than once?
A: Absolutely. Each performance starts a new branch of the Family Tree and connects you to all those Brothers who bonded before you.

Q: Why blood brother, can't I be your blood sister?
A: Anyone male or female can participate in the bonding ritual. The performance and the Family is gender neutral, the title of Brother is not due to its historic memetic structure.

Q: How many performances are you going to do?
A: As many as are necessary. My short-term goal is to gain 1000 Brothers.

Q: Will you perform Blood Brothers at [insert space/gallery/art event/etc.]?
A: Probably. Please email me at nathan at nathansharratt dot com and we can discuss possibilities.

Q: What next?
A: Blood Brothers is an ongoing project. I've shared my story, the next step is for you to share yours. A website will be set up for Brothers to tell their story. Sign up to be notified when the site is live.

Q: What story?
A: Your story.

Did I miss anything? Please comment if you have any questions I haven't answered here, and I'll update the post.

Thursday, March 17, 2011

An Artist's Life: Marina Abramovic's Manifesto

An artist should not lie to himself or to others
An artist should not steal ideas from the other artist
An artist should not compromise for themselves or in regard to the art market
An artist should not kill another human being
An artist should not make themselves into an idol
An artist should not make themselves into an idol
An artist should not make themselves into an idol
An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist
An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist
An artist should avoid falling in love with another artist
An artist should develop an erotic point of view on the world
An artist should be erotic
An artist should be erotic
An artist should be erotic
An artist should suffer
From the suffering comes the best work
Suffering brings transformation
Through the suffering an artist transcends [???] the spirit
An artist should not be depressed
Depression is a disease and should be cured
Depression is not productive for an artist
Depression is not productive for an artist
Depression is not productive for an artist 

Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Art and Disaster.

David Guttenfelder | AP Photo + Nathan Sharratt
I have difficulty processing tragedy. My initial reaction is taciturn acceptance. My rational, cognitive mind understands that the event occurred and there is no undo button to make it not have happened. There is nothing I could possibly say that could turn back the clock or make everything better. All words are at the very best inadequate and at the worst serve to trivialize the event and its consequences by attempting to express the inexpressible. In my mind—at least initially—speaking about it is an attempt to capture the event, to define it, categorize it, make it smaller and more digestible, easily processed. This can't be done. There is no way to effectively represent the enormity, complexity and magnitude of the disaster in Japan, or any number of other equally devastating world events. Running to Facebook or Twitter to let the world know that I think tragedies are tragic just seems so disingenuous. I scream oh how awful, fulfilling my role as a compassionate human being; and then I finish my dinner. It makes me feel better, but does nothing to alleviate the victims' suffering. It becomes a way to claim the power and authenticity of the event as my own, and to focus the lens of empathy on me, where it doesn't belong. So I don't say anything.

This is not to say that those who do post to social media after a tragic event are bad or wrong in any way, not at all. Quite the opposite. Everyone processes grief differently, and any method that works for you is the correct method. Some people internalize, some externalize, some find comfort in between. Some people donate to relief charities. Some people encourage others to donate to relief charities. Some process it by not processing it, giving the event no more thought than is necessary. All of it, any of it, none of it, is all correct. Though we are increasingly more a global society, the only reality we can know for certain exists is our own. I can empathize with the victims and their families by imagining myself in their place as an abstract concept, but I cannot truly understand. How would I feel if my world was destroyed? I don't know. I can't know, until it happens to me. The only way I can come anywhere near relating to those affected by the Japanese earthquake is by narrowing the field of vision to my own experiences. Anything else becomes too immense to deal with. One of those experiences was living in New York during the 9/11 attacks.

Monday, March 7, 2011

Group Show: Paint By Numbers, 3-11, Granite Room - Blood Brothers Performance

I will be performing Blood Brothers for the Paint By Numbers group show.

For Immediate Release

One night only, a group of sixteen emerging Atlanta artists exhibit new work in the exhibition Paint by Numbers: Systematic Structures and Images.

The exhibition coincides with Castleberry Hill’s March Art Stroll, and opens Friday, March 11, at 7:00 pm at the Granite Room. Paint By Numbers showcases printmaking, sculpture, photography, and performance-based works that explore visual representations of instructional and participatory systems. 

The childhood pastime of painting by numbers is an apt metaphor for the state and structure of modern society.  Paint By Numbers aims to reconnect us with ourselves and our environments by systematically deconstructing and reconstructing our world. Literal and metaphoric interpretations of the theme represent the diversified approaches and uniqueness of each individual artist represented.

Step 1: Transport yourself to Castleberry Hill.
Step 2: Locate the Granite Room on your Art Stroll map. 
Step 3: Enter the Granite Room.
Step 4: Explore the space and enjoy refreshments.
Step 5: View art and form opinions.
Step 5: Converse and discuss with artists and other patrons.

Artists featured include Johnnie B, Elizabeth Bailey Christenbury, Michelle Cornelison, Kelly Gilmore, Kathryn Hartmann, Sarah Howerter, Natalie Hudson, Joseph Karg, Connor Kirk, Mina Majest, Curtis James Miller, Kevin O’Kelley, Nathan Sharratt, Shannon Slane, Janie Stamm, Kelli Ulmer, and Christopher Wright.

For further information please contact Sarah Howerter by email at or by phone at (912)660-4321.

The Granite Room
211 Peters Street
Atlanta, GA 30313

Friday, March 11, 2011 7:00 – 10:00pm

Friday, March 4, 2011

Be My Blood Brother - March 3, 2011 Performance

Be My Blood Brother, Performance (5 hours), 3-11-11, Atlanta, GA

Yesterday marked the inaugural performance of Be My Blood Brother (or Blood Brothers) at the ACA Sculpture Gallery in Atlanta, GA from 11am-4pm. I now have 25 more Brothers in my Family Tree.

The next performance will coincide with the March 11th Castleberry Hill Art Stroll at the Granite Room during the Paint By Numbers group show. Please, mark your calendar. I want to be your Brother. Each performance starts a new branch of the Family Tree. The more performances you attend, the more more you become connected to the new members of the Family.

My press release went something like this:
Nathan Sharratt’s latest public injunction, Blood Brothers, invites viewers to participate in the time-honored ritual of bonding by blood. Sharratt will present several ingredients for a traditional entertainment-centric blood analog, conspicuously combine them and apply the solution to a dull knife blade. The viewer and the artist will then commence with the ritual action of palm cutting and clasping, begging the question, is blood truly the strongest bond? Each brother will receive a certificate of brotherhood and be included into that performance's Family Tree.
Ingredients included Father, Mother, Ancestor (Paternal),
Ancestor (Maternal), and Purity


NPR: New Bible Updates Language; 'Booty' Falls By Wayside

New Bible Updates Language; 'Booty' Falls By Wayside : The Two-Way : NPR

Here are some of the swaps included in the new Bible:
"booty" is now "spoils of war" — for presumably obvious reasons.
"virgin" becomes "young woman" — especially where the original uses the Hebrew word "almah."
"holocaust" will become "burnt offerings" - scholars say that was closer to the original meaning, before "holocaust" came to be identified with the genocide of World War II.
"cereal"— now co-opted by General Mills and Post, becomes "grain."
An interesting look at how language evolves like a living organism. Word definitions change over time, yet many modern definitions are applied to ancient texts when the word was intended to mean something else. Not to mention translation inconsistencies and/or errors that can further distort meaning.

I think it's important to delineate between "intended meaning" and "applied meaning." Since language is itself a complete human construct, there can never be a "true" meaning of any linguistic application. In language, nothing existed before we decided to agree on shared meanings. When I say, "rock," if you understand English, you know what a rock is. There is a thing that is "rock" whether I call it rock, or boulder, or butterbutt. As long as you and I agree on nomenclature, we can share thoughts. Still, if I point to a rock and call it nothing, it still exists as a physical object. Language has none of that.

Thanks to Shannon Slane for pointing me to this article.

Ann Liv Young and pushing it

From On stage, Ann Liv Young has rolled around in her dog’s ashes, had sex with her co-stars, covered herself in blood, drank urine and attacked a PETA activist. Off stage, she has given the audience lap dances and ridiculed her own cast for fucking up during a performance.
As a graduate of the prestigious Hollins University dance program, as well as a former resident of the FUSED program in France and the Laban Centre in London, Ann Liv’s work has been presented at some of the most notable venues and festivals around America and Europe. Her shows, which she writes, performs, costume designs, stage designs and produces herself, are over-the-top performances that genre-bend elements of music video, porn, and fine art that really do go there.

I found this interview to be interesting and relatable. In it, she talks about blending the real and the unreal, and how she doesn't start out thinking about the best ways to make the audience the most uncomfortable  (though she does admit that it may be a subconscious influence). She also talks about having fun with people's low shock thresholds; once you realize how easy it is to shock people, a little mischievousness kicks in.

I have been holding back on executing some of my more explicit work while in school, mainly because (based on precedent) SCAD administration would likely either censor it or expel me. Rationally, my immediate priority is in getting that piece of paper. The ideas don't go away. Whether I execute a work now or a year from now doesn't dilute its validity for me. However, the thought that my own art school—that openly promotes innovation in all areas—would stifle creativity in its students is kind of sickening. While I don't regret transferring to SCAD—since anywhere you go you get out what you put in, and had I not moved to Atlanta from NYC I wouldn't have pursued fine art—I do feel I've been sold a lot of empty promises. The University For Creative Careers. Maybe they should think about changing it to The University For Commercial Careers. 

Wonton idealism is a wonderful thing, but I have grander plans than sticking it to a little southern art school. That being said, I've been itching to do just that

Wednesday, March 2, 2011

Gyun Hur Installation at Lenox Square

Spent the day assisting Gyun Hur install the Flux Projects-funded Spring Hiatus at Lenox Square Mall. Lots and lots and lots of shredded silk flowers in very straight lines. Since there's no glue holding them down it required an obscene amount of control and an obsessive attention to detail. It was quite fun.

Thankfully, I had my own tweezers for plucking out strays from the wrong line. I also tried to help find a way to compensate for the slope in the floor that was causing the lines to very slightly bow in a certain area. Also thankfully I had a laser level in my car. Battery was pretty much dead though, so it wasn't very illuminating.

It's so weird that I had my own tweezers and laser level isn't it? Not really. After the Lenox install I was headed to install my own Blood Brother's paraphernalia for the performance the next day. Good tweezers are very handy for installing vinyl lettering. More on the Blood Brothers performance to come.

A video by Flux about Gyun's work is below:

Flux Film 007 | Hur from Proper Medium on Vimeo.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Marina Abramovic Talk at SCAD deFINE Art Series audio transcript

Marina Abramovic, The Artist Is Present, MoMA
Thursday was SCAD's keynote talk for its deFINE Art series of artist talks featuring performance artist Marina Abramovic, who pioneered the use of performance as a visual art form. A Google search will tell you more about her than I ever could.

The main purpose of this post is to share an audio recording I made of the talk. She thought lecturing on her past work to be boring, so she decided instead to give a two-hour lesson on performance art. She shared a curated selection of performance video clips structured by body part (head, hands, feet, torso, body drama, etc.) from a wide variety of artists including herself, along with her thoughts on each. Video recording was not allowed, so without the video clips much of the impact will be missed, but she mentions the title and artist's name for many of the clips, so independent research can fill in the visual gaps.

[Edit: ArtRelish has the full video available, embedded after the jump]

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Reading List - Art and Work

I thought it might be interesting to share some books that I've been reading.

The first, and the one I've been using most often recently, is The Artist's Guide to Public Art, by Lynn Basa. If you're interested in finding and getting commissions, I couldn't recommend it more highly. It's full of actually useful information, from where to seek out RFQs and RFPs (don't know what they are? read the book!), to how to write proposals, to what to do after you've won. Contracts, insurance fabricators, it's all in there.

I skimmed the whole book first, because if you're new to the process it'll sound like a lot of gobbledygook (I don't need to know about insurance yet, I'm still looking for proposals to write for, etc). I then went back and used it as a reference when I reached each phase in the proposal process.

Recommended to me by public artist Gregor Turk and also the Fulton County Arts Commission.

Monday, February 14, 2011

It's Okay To Bleed

IT'S OKAY TO BLEED IF IT GETS ON YOUR FINGERS was one of my more technically challenging pieces, and it evolved quite a bit from the original design due to material behavior in initial tests. I've got a ton of in-progress pics.

When I was first envisioning this pice, I saw it as a 9' square platform, with clear letters serving as open containers. They would be filled with fake blood, and the viscosity of the corn syrup (principle ingredient in many fake-blood recipes) would create a surface-tension bubble above the container's surface. The rendering below shows the first conceptual draft.
An early rendering. The initial idea was that the piece would lay on the floor.
I wanted to explore the resonance between the cognitive (textual language) and the visceral (fake blood). The fact that fake blood is a human-constructed analog for real blood specifically for entertainment purposes bridges the gap between the two. It's visceral in that it is "blood," and yet the fakeness of it means we created a convention when there was none preexisting to have a culturally-accepted form for communication (in this case, communicating that it's supposed to be real blood), similar to language.

Sketchbook pages showing original explorations on left,
to the final fabrication layout on right.

So to build this thing, I needed to find a suitable way to affordably fabricate clear dimensional letterforms at five inches deep. I decided to experiment with the traditional method of letter fabrication, vacuum-formed plastic. That meant I had to build a vacu-form table. I spoke with someone who had made their own table for advice on different construction methods and thermoplastics. I eventually modified a few different plans I found on the internet and added my own twist to some parts here and there.

Mechanical Bloodlines

I took the photographs that would become Mechanical Bloodlines (formerly Nick Plus Dad Equals) over Columbus-Day Weekend in 2004. Nick was four at the time. This was the same weekend I took the Family Portraits. I had borrowed a Holga from a co-worker at Laptop Magazine.

While I've had the Family Portraits printed since 2004, I only recently went back to the negative box and scanned these images of Nick amongst our father's machinery, after I realized that even back then I was beginning to explore concepts of family structure and bonds.

The idea at the time was to find connections, and a big one was my father's plethora of vehicles and machinery, which he uses to maintain the campground that my family owns and operates outside Cooperstown, NY. I'm not sure if I was consciously using Nick as a surrogate for myself or not. You might notice that my father isn't in any of the images, even the one taken inside the house with the rest of the family. He was usually out and about doing this or that around the campground or running errands to town. To this day he refuses to get a cell phone because it just means people will constantly be calling him to do stuff.

I've included a few outtakes from the shoot. While I really like the images, three pics of the firetruck is redundant.

I may end up including this one in the series. There's something about the double exposure and the expressions on Nick's faces, from exuberance to crankiness. Nick had a cold at the time so he was constantly carrying around a handkerchief with a rocking horse on it. He had rubbed his nose so much that it was becoming red and inflamed.

It's interesting that at the beginning of my quest for an artistic voice, I sought out my family, and it took another six years to come back to them. Sometimes we need to explore the world before we realize there's no place like home.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Life drawings from the archive

Found some old life drawings from my SVA days. Not the greatest pictures since I didn't have a way to evenly light them in my Queens apartment at the time. Here they are anyway.
Seated Woman. Graphite. 30x40
Nude Man. Gouache on Acetate. 26x40

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Emotional Baggage Claim proposal notes and words as sketches

I've been working feverishly on my Flux proposal, a performance and installation called, It's All My Fault Emotional Baggage Claim, I thought I'd post a page of notes from my sketchbook. You might notice (especially as I post more pages of other projects) there aren't many drawings for a visual artist's sketchbook.

I came to this realization myself not too long ago. I wondered why I didn't draw more in my sketchbook. Isn't that what artists do when they're sketching? Mostly, it has to do with the way I think and they way I translate what I think to formats others can understand. Language is not natural or innate. It's a constructed convention that, while wildly successful in communicating broad and even nuanced ideas, still falls short when relating to non-tangibles.

I ask myself questions a lot, both technical and conceptual. What am I trying to get across? What do I need to achieve that? How can I layer content and meaning into various aspects while maintaining a visual simplicity? What ideas should I try out? Will this work? Will that?

I see the visuals in my head usually clearly, so it's often not useful for me to spend time fiddling with rudimentary drawings, unless I need to share my idea with another person (as I did in the above image). However, I don't think as naturally in words unless I'm working out how to translate ephemeral core concepts or themes into language. Words end up being my sketches. 

Sunday, February 6, 2011

Here it goes (again?)

Making the transition from commercial art to fine art is no small task. In NYC, sculpture was never really an option. It was difficult enough carrying a flat portfolio through the subway, can you imagine trying to navigate the city with some bigass hunk of metal with sharpened edges? Unless you've got a shop, a truck and ample storage space, it just isn't realistic.

However, now that I've made the move to Atlanta, and have a house, a workshop and a vehicle, the world of possibilities suddenly seems endless.

I've started uploading images to a new portfolio site, that will focus on my fine art, and will actually be updated regularly as I make new work. I've had for ages, but haven't touched it since the early 2000s. My TShirts and music are still there, but that's about it.

I'll be using this site as a way to explore my process and influences so it can hopefully be shown that, for example, my decision to use fake blood as a material may be slightly less creepy that it first appears.

Maybe not.