Plaster Sculpture, 1996-2003
During a residency in Berlin I turned to Sculpture. It allowed for a more direct investigation of our interaction with the natural world than painting could offer. Urbanization, with all its new devices, is stripping us of our interaction with the natural world. We share a lot with captive animals in that regard. I felt a need to begin with a study of the most basic gestures that we use to place ourselves in the world. To achieve this, I imagined that the natural world was gone, erased, except for the bit of landscape left at the edge of my body. I then filled balloons with plaster and pigment and strapped the balloons in the spaces between my skin and the air around my body. I then attempted to enact and record gestures that extend space outwards, bring the world back and thereby make my life possible. Among those basic needs were access to shelter, physical location, boundaries, friends, protection, food, and tools. The result was quite large sculpture because these needs require constant repetition.
Handmade Paper Sculpture 2005-2007
Currently I use both paper and metal for their ability to record the intricate effects of wear and tear on the cultural and natural fabric of our contemporary world. Among these effects are the boundary shifts that are being caused by global warming. Entire sections where form once existed feel erased, burnt, or gnawed away. The remains evoke parts of the human body and elements of the nature/culture battle that seek to survive destructive forces. References to the human body and to human scale unite to produce the unsettling effect of implicating a part of the viewer’s body in the survival effort that is being enacted in each sculpture. It is as if a part of one’s body is being used without one’s consent.
Throughout the papermaking process I set up conditions that mirror natural forces. Pulp and water are allowed to participate actively in the shaping of the paper. For example, I often let the drying paper twist the internal metal rods on which the paper is supported, much as the drying out of the cells of a dead tree causes its trunk to spiral in one direction. The active collaboration of the process brings a sense of added life to the work by making forms feel as if they are pinched and pulled and moving before one’s eyes. The result is the impression that an event is in process of unfolding, forcing each sculpture to change location, structure, and shape. I intend my sculpture to feel ‘site uncomfortable’, as if it has come from another place and is merely passing through the gallery on its way elsewhere. Wishful Filaments (a play on Freud’s dreams of ‘wish fulfillment’) suggests an accordion book that is pried loose from the earth, stretched open, and held up to the sky by marionette wires. It forms a stairway that allows the thought of flight along a vertical axis.
Environmental Sculpture 2007-2012
This body of work represents the most extreme investigation to date of the state of our environment. My sculptural forms reveal a world in which climate change is assaulting natural and cultural boundaries. Things are seriously out of place. Objects, as well as life forms and processes, are left suspended in locations/situations where they are unable to perform their usual functions. Discovering and inventing a new purpose for things has become a crucial task at every scale. Two major sculptural works highlight such significant shifts in function and purpose. In Messing with the Axis Mundi (usually defined as the vertical, spiritual axis of human existence), the axis becomes a scissor lift, a lifting mechanism normally found at construction sites. Here it is used to raise an eight-foot square of the ocean’s surface high into the air where humans can perform experiments that blur the line between sea and sky. In Drawing Back to the Pyramid, a house, fresh off the drawing board and made astonishingly of paper two-by-fours, sinks into what might be permafrost, its original cubic form morphing into a pyramid, implying that we are in the presence of a tomb.
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