For the past quarter century, the Indian Orchard Mills have become a landing spot for countless local artists to practice their craft. Artists who make their home in the Mills include stained glass artists, weavers, painters, and more.
In his third and final look at the Artists of Indian Orchard Mills, Connecting Point’s Brian Sullivan meets up with artist Ellen Pollock and sculptor Maxwell Parker to discuss their experience working in the old mill building turned creative community.
Read the full transcript:
Brian Sullivan, Connecting Point: It’s a cool, gray, winter Saturday at the Indian Orchard Mills and the sounds of drills, miter saws, and hammers permeate the air of the artwork space occupied by Maxwell Parker.
This isn’t really an uncommon sight on the weekend, since Parker has a regular 9 to 5 job during the week, making this some of the only time for him to tap into his unique creative side.
What is uncommon, however, is that Ellen Pollock, the artist who with whom he shares half this space, is here as well.
Normally, these two have more of a two ships passing in the night kind of working relationship, and it’s a relationship born out of financial convenience for both of them.
Ellen Pollock, Artist: I share my space to share expenses. That’s basically the whole thing and, you know, Max, Max is great — It’s just turned out that we haven’t been here at the same time, so we always have our space to ourselves.
Brian Sullivan: Each represents two entirely different spectrums of the art world.
Pollock is more established and has a more traditional approach, while Parker is still relatively new, particularly in this building. And his sculpting style leans heavily on the experimental side.
Maxwell Parker, Sculptor: What I’m doing is I’m making a driving simulator that deals with kind of what you would feel like driving down the road with some person behind you with their brights on and stuff like that, and that whole overwhelming experience and like trying to like deal with, you know, keep driving forward and being like, safe, I guess. But like, with all these other things going on.
Brian Sullivan: It’s art that might be described as perfectly imperfect. It’s not made of the finest materials or even cut exactly right. There’s a certain funhouse feel to it, and that’s exactly what he’s going for.
Maxwell Parker: I love having fun with things. So like, I wanted to kind of, like, exude that and have people see what I see in my things that I make.
And I guess when I was little, they would be like little science experiments that I would create, like pulling stuff out of the trash, putting it together, like making like little robots out of — nonfunctional robots — out of, like, remote control cars.
So, like, I kind of want to, like, recreate that here and, like, allow the space for people to play.
Brian Sullivan: If Ellen Pollock’s work is considered traditional, it’s only due to the fact that it doesn’t require power tools to put together.
The styles that comprise her body of work are quite expansive.
Ellen Pollock: I’m focusing on abstracts a little bit.
I also do something called process painting, which is when you, you know, tack a piece of paper up on the wall, grab some poster paints, and start painting without any preconceptions and not looking at anything. So, you’re not doing reality. It can end up being abstract. It can end up being just some fantasy thing.
But my goals, in art, is to express my feelings. Either my feelings at the moment or my impressions of whatever I’m painting.
Brian Sullivan: This studio is the first shared space that we visited during our time at the Indian Orchard Mills, and finding it was part of the adventure.
From the outside, these buildings can be a bit intimidating for first timers here. It may seem obvious, but something as simple as these decorative numbers by the doors really made it a lot easier to navigate.
What’s been neat about this experience is that we’ve gotten a chance to kind of explore these old mill buildings. The last time we visited, we were upstairs here on the third floor. Before that, we stopped over at the back building through door seven.
This time around, we’re taking a look at some studio space here on the second floor by way of door 19. And it’s about half way down this long corridor that we find the studio shared by Ellen Pollock and Maxwell Parker, neither of whom would be considered cagey veterans of this complex.
Pollock, having been here for just a few years and Parker, just a few months. But regardless of the length of their tenure, each is enjoying making their mark here.
Maxwell Parker: These old mill buildings just, like, kind of give you the freedom to not worry about, like, screwing anything up, too, you know? Like it’s already been used for a purpose and now it has a new life and like, you’re breathing like whatever you’re doing into it.
Ellen Pollock: I love the old mill buildings. I just think a lot of them are falling apart and I really personally have a real love for them. But as far as this one goes, it has a history of housing, an artist community, and it’s just a great place to be.