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Collaborators John McCormick and Megan Mirro work across a wide range of mediums
By Dan Swartz
Fort Wayne Reader
While artistic production is, in a popular sense, seen as an act of the individual toiling in solitude to create genius in one form or another, many are finding that collaboration and the synthesis of media, artistic genres, and whole bodies of thought allow for more vital creative results. John McCormick and Megan Mirro seem to have this market cornered with their various visual, sonic, and published endeavors.
Fort Wayne natives, then artistic ex-pats, now triumphant returners, McCormick and Mirro are using there eclectic experiences to infuse their work with rich contemporary ideas about sound and visual recognition, including a slight multicultural flair, while keeping to selfless, hardworking, gritty, Midwestern overall conceptual frameworks.
John McCormick, a Homestead High School graduate, has always been inclined to both music and the visual arts, this stemming from his family being extremely musical, and his natural tendency to draw. In high school, McCormick was part of the band Dead Letter Auction, and toured the nation with them beginning his familiarity and ease of use of DIY principles, just booking shows and traveling to them. After this he continued his traveling in a way, going to college. McCormick has attended six colleges and universities in Indiana, Boston, and New York, finishing at the Purchase College in Westchester, New York. Megan Mirro, a Canterbury High School graduate, has a somewhat similar tendency to move around and soak up the world. Being dissatisfied with the extent of her post secondary education which began in Denver, Mirro moved to NYC to attend New York University. Graduating from NYU in 2006 with an interdisciplinary degree, Mirro eventually began working for the Fort Wayne Museum of Art as their Community Outreach Specialist, making the museum more and more visible to the public.
Artistically, McCormick's work tends to be about the way and context in which the viewer is viewing the work. Many times this is considered "Art for Art's Sake," or art which directly engages the practice of making art, but McCormick escapes the narcissism associated with this by engaging in largely formal questioning, anonymity, and his insistence on "making the viewer comfortable." The goal of his art is to be expressive, but not self-expressive. This leaves ample room for the viewer to engage the work in varying ways. Mirro is currently exploring just where she wants to go with her art, but is keeping very busy collaborating with McCormick on drawings and video installations, as well as doing her own photography and crochet work. An example of their collaborative work is a "hand scape," or a drawing made by tracing various parts of their hands and embellishing those results. The resulting abstractions can then be seen as both minimal or manic. Reminiscent of Richard Tuttle, the formal aspects of these drawings can be appreciated as implications-indirect indications of, and the relationships between the basic units of visual form.
Musically, McCormick and Mirro are better known as "Sky Thing," the electronic duo which has been seen around town as well as in Indy where they have performed at the Big Car Gallery. An interesting mix of sourced and sampled sounds, and acoustics (Megan on the sampler and John on the drums), Sky Thing's performances also come together through their video work to become installations which have been influenced by La Monte Young (and his "Dream House" semi-permanent installation in NYC) and other avant-garde and minimalist composers. Songs like "Snake Charms" are evidence of Sky Thing's minimalism with its insistent drums beats as the steady pulse, its playful consonance, and its use of sonic motifs. Sky Thing also entertains with its visual/sonic misrepresentation, creating complicated sounds constructed from the everyday noises of change dropping, and using the drum beats in unorthodox manners. Tying McCormick's anonymous aesthetic into his music, it is important to note that Sky Thing's music does seem to be without an Ego, with ut the drum solo, the virtuoso use of a musical instrument, and with a leading, open-ended sonic narrative.
Just when you thought there couldn’t be another creative outlet for this duo, PRO-YOU is released. Conceived as a DIY celebration of the people of Fort Wayne, PRO-YOU is Fort Wayne's newest, in an impressive line of artist publications that consists mostly of interviews with various arts and music figures, and includes a visual centerfold. The first issue is composed of interviews with Metavari, Nick Fabini, Daniel Dienelt, Omar Afzaal, and Nick Weaver. The interviews range from an exposition of formal influence by Daniel Dienelt in reference to his amazing show at Device Tattoo late last year, to a very thoughtful interview which begins in mid-thought with Omar Afzaal, about the state of the art world in Fort Wayne necessarily taking on underground and subculture components, and how this impacts the livelihood of the art produced here. The centerfold is a photograph by Daniel Dienelt.
PRO-YOU is designed expertly as a vernacular publication, handwritten and photocopied to perfection. McCormick interviewed all the participants and constructed the template over a period of two and a half months, and Mirro assisted as editor. Again, using a selfless aesthetic, McCormick designed PRO-YOU, not for the viewing to be in awe of its glossy pages, but to realize that anyone and any one of its readers could create something similar to this and add to the publication culture in Fort Wayne. McCormick explained that he wanted to have an affirming title, noting the way that many in Fort Wayne seem to deny themselves the right of qualified work by instantly stating the shortcomings of the area as a cultural mecca. As the first issue of PRO-YOU clearly shows, Fort Wayne, and specifically the downtown/near-downtown area is rich and ripe with creative minds and activity, perhaps just not in the "usual packages" which we see in the stereotypical modes of creation in other cities.
You can witness to a great deal of John McCormick and Megan Mirro's talent by attending the PRO-YOU zine release party, which will be at the Fort Wayne Museum of Art on May 19th, beginning at 7pm. The release party will be followed by a performance of both Sky Thing, and House of Bread. Admission to this all ages show is $3.