Smile Politely

WorkSpace: Cory Imig

  • Art form: Sculpture and Mix media Art.
  • Influences: Minimalism and Conceptual Art. Artists such as Sol Lewitt, Agnes Martin, Richard Tuttle, Fred Sandback, and Bas Jan Ader. Also performative practices such as Sophie Calle, Kate Gilmore, and Chris Burden.
  • Workspace: Space Provided by U of I MFA program.
  • Dream collaboration: She loves collaborating with other artists on curatorial projects.
  • Recommended movie: Me and You and Everyone We Know.
  • Favorite spot in C-U:  All of the parks and the Flying Machine.
  • Where to see his work:, Instagram

Cory Imig moved from Kansas City, MO to Urbana-Champaign this past fall to attend the MFA program at UIUC. Recently, She has been making large installations that exist in a place between sculpture, painting and textiles. Cory spent seven years in Kansas City and became very involved in the local art community. A few years ago She co-founded an artist-run gallery space called PLUG Projects, with four other artists. The gallery space focused on helping Kansas City artists make connections outside of the city and meet other artists.

Smile Politely: When and how did you decide to become an artist?

Cory Imig: I clearly remember the evening when I started to understand contemporary art and when I realized it was what I was definitely interested in. I was in my senior year of high school and I was taking almost all art classes. I didn’t know being an artist or studying art after high school was an option, but art classes were the only thing that I enjoyed and the only thing I was good at. I took all the classes that my high school offered – painting, sculpture, jewelry, drawing and photography.

There is one particular night that stands out to me. I was confused about contemporary art and I wanted to learn why people liked it so much and especially why people liked art that was so simple and cheesy. I started with Andy Warhol. I spent the evening researching him and by the end of the night I was convinced. I still wasn’t a total fan of the images but I understood the concept or his intention behind the work. Everything he was saying about his work made so much sense to me. That evening changed a lot for me and provided me a different perspective on art that wasn’t just about the materials or the processes but a way of making art that was focused on ideas.

SP: What or who are your influences?

Imig:I am influenced and inspired by a wide variety of artists. I get really excited about Minimalism and Conceptual Art. These movements primarily took place during the 1960’s and 70’s. Artists such as Sol Lewitt, Agnes Martin, Richard Tuttle, Fred Sandback, and Bas Jan Ader have practices that I have long admired. I also am drawn to more performative practices such as Sophie Calle, Kate Gilmore, and Chris Burden.

SP: Who would you like to collaborate with and why?

Imig: I love collaborating with other artists on curatorial projects. These are usually big ideas that I definitely couldn’t accomplish alone. My work with PLUG Projects in Kansas City was an amazing ongoing collaboration that I was involved with over the course of 4+ years.  We had a great team that got along effortlessly. I know that is not always the case in collaborative work but it is amazing when a group finds their rhythm. I believe people can accomplish a lot more as a group than as an individual.

SP: Tell us about your workspace.

Imig: My studio space usually ends up being a space for me to play with materials, plan large installations, read books, and waste time. Every time I move studios my work seems to shift and change as well. The spaces that I work have an impact on the work that I make. My studio space here in Champaign is perfect, it’s big enough to have a couple different things happening at the same time but small enough that I have to keep it organized. I have a tendency to expand to fill the amount of space that I have and sometimes that is not a good thing.

SP: Choose a piece of your art work and explain it in detail (subject of interest? what idea are you exploring? how are you doing this? etc)

Imig: I think it might be easier to describe a recent series of work. There were about 5 or 6 pieces that all developed at the same time. These sculptures and installations explore and play with three-dimensional space. I am interested in working in collaboration with the spaces that I install work in. Allowing the site and materials to dictate relationships between one another. I am trying to blur the boundaries between individual pieces and bring the viewer in as a moving component of the work. I want everything to be active, including the space and its inhabitants.

The materials I use in this body of work are familiar to everyday life, some objects are found in thrift stores, dumpsters, basements or big box store clearance bins. The way the objects come together in the work remains fluid. I reserve the freedom to respond to the different environments that the work is installed in and alter the pieces as necessary.

My material choices and physical responses to space are aligned with both Minimalism and fiber histories. Pattern, time, repetition and structure can work together to create playful and immersive environments. These sculptures are meant to that question the idea of permanence and phenomenological experience.

SP:What movie would you recommend to watch and why?

Imig: I always have a hard time picking a favorite movie but I would say my go to is Miranda July’s Me and You and Everyone We Know. I think it is beautifully shot with some really poetic moments. Not only are her films great but her other work is engaging, silly and beautiful as well. 

SP: What is your favorite spot in C-U ?

Imig: One of the things I was most excited about when I was moving here were all of the parks. It is my goal this spring and summer to visit all of them. I also love the Flying Machine. It’s my favorite spot to grab a coffee.  I have only lived here a few months and they already know my order. 

SP: What do you think about the art scene in C-U?

Imig: I am still getting to know the people, artists, organizations, and venues here but so far I am super impressed with this city and I feel very welcomed. Since being here I have experienced a lot of enthusiasm from other artists and organizations, it is really refreshing! I am working on a collaborative project with two other artists that I think will provide a platform for me to get to know people a little better. This fall we are looking forward to launching a mobile art space, Say Uncle, which is supported by an Urbana Arts Grant. The three of us, Dulcee Boehm, Benjamin Cook and myself think this project will provide an opportunity for us to get to know the artists in the community as well as provide a connection between several of the Central Illinois artist communities.

SP: Where, when and how can we see your work? 

Imig: I will be showing at Lightbox in mid-June. LIGHTBOX is a collaboration between 40 North and Weiskamp Screen Printing that rotates site-specific installation art in Weiskamp’s highly visible retail window space facing Neil Street. This program seeks to provide an opportunity for Champaign County artists to transform the space for a period of three months. I am very active on social media, you can find my work on my website, and my Instagram, @coryimig.

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