June 22 - July 30
An exhibit entitled "Garden of Delights" seems guaranteed to conjure up images of Hieronymus Bosch's surreal masterpiece, and though my work in wire mesh isn't derivative thereof, it helps explain some of the juxtapositions I'm presenting at Mitchell-Giddings Fine Arts.
When I explain how I got from point A to point B, from sculpting exclusively representational — or more specifically, realistic — figures, to abstract, geometric forms, I start with a simplistic stated goal: I sought to learn more about the material. One needs to experiment in order to break down assumptions, old habits and safe patterns, to break one's own rules. All of my work is material-focused, which itself is a "rule:” I only sculpt in woven wire mesh. Just like in our personal, emotional, social lives, some rules serve us, and many do not. When I let my material / structural experiments become the ends rather than the means, I realized that "figures only" was an unnecessary self-imposed rule based more on insecurity than artistic excellence. I almost subconsciously assumed that my audience would need a firm recognition of the subject matter, that a blob of fireplace screen in space wouldn't be enough. Well, it is!
My first experiments were attempts to form a cylinder that could be a fully enclosed figure rather than the open-backed forms I typically create. I didn't like the seam running through the body, so I never pursued it. But as a cylinder this form presented a whole new expressive world. For years these forms served as Christmas presents for my family but would never grace a gallery wall. It took a few inquiries soliciting such work before I realized that these forms could be a ticket to a creative freedom I hadn't allowed myself. I had been busy building my own cage, and here was a gentle reminder that I was actually quite free.
While still enjoying the challenges of sculpting figures, the abstract experiments take me delightfully to the other end of the spectrum of expression with forms that only exist to say "here I am. I am possible."
I will continue to search for a happy middle ground between the two, but for now the contrast and de-facto relationship of forms seems delightful. And, quite coincidentally, reminiscent of a Bosch fantasy landscape.