Thursday, September 2, 2010

Gallery Talk, UNC (Greeley, CO)

The following is a brief introduction to my work, prepared as a presentation to Prof. Connie Stewart's class on Sept. 2, 2010,  in conjunction with my site-specific piece Web/Veil at UNC's Oak Room Gallery.

I work mainly abstractly, but my practice is ultimately grounded in observational drawing.  The forms and relationships in my work come from seeing.  It's crucial for me always to be looking; and I tend to alternate between projects in which I'm building something, and projects in which I'm drawing something from observation. 

Tablel IV.  Graphite on paper.  2007.

The two feed into each other, so that lately I've been making observational drawings and paintings of table-top constructions- which have a lot in common with my large-scale constructions. These table-top compositions are small, allowing me to experiment and work out innovations relatively quickly.

Shelter Fantasy.  Oil on linen.  2009.

An abstract construction such as Web/Veil  is far from non-objective.  I'm always working with a set of references that I find compelling.  So, in working on this particular piece, I was thinking of spider webs and textiles, and the way that both can be very fragile.

My project for the Oak Room comes out of a relatively new involvement with site-specific, spatial drawing. I developed much of my visual language through printmaking (this was my area of concentration in graduate school).  The reliance upon line is something I've carried from printmaking practices into my current work.  Etching, engraving, drypoint:  these approaches made me more sensitive to how line itself could be expressive.

Web.  Intaglio.  2004.
Ascension I.  Drypoint.  2004.

My interest in line work lead me to make a series of thread-on-paper drawings in my last year of graduate school.  I was making these concurrently with drypoints and engravings which were thread-like or hair-like.

Darting Line.  Thread, graphite on paper.  2004.

The thread work segued very naturally into working with wire, which I liked for the particular line quality it yielded-  very cool and precise- and for the possibility of using line spatially.

Mutable Box.  Steel wire.  2008.

This year I started working at a larger scale,  using the medium to respond situationally to a given exhibit space instead of producing stand-alone pieces.  As soon as I started working this way, I wondered why I hadn't been doing this for years, because it felt like such a good fit.  The possibility of spacial (habitable) drawing is something I encountered as a student, and it stuck with me for years before I saw an opening for it in my work.

Shift.  2010.

There have also been some unexpected pleasures in working site-specifically.  I like that it's a little unpredictable.  I like that each space presents eccentricities and constraints.  These spur problem solving, and this spurs innovation.  I like that the work is ephemeral:  Web/Veil will never be exhibited again, at least in its present form.  Unless I sell the piece, I will divide it into parts to make a new drawing for a new space.

Who I'm looking at right now...
In a very real sense I will always be a student of art.  I'm always looking at other artists' work, past and contemporary.  Here are a few artists who are important to the way I'm thinking right now:

Gego  (drawing in wire, net motif).
Giorgio Morandi (placement, pictorial geometry).
Janine Antoni (intersection of minimalist form with feminist reference, medium as message).
El Anatsui (casual materials, metal as textile. recycling).
Jim Hodges (casual materials, web motif).
Guerra De La Paz (casual materials, towards color).
Mike and Doug Starn (a habitable drawing).