Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Art: a world of hypothesis and dreams

I love going to talks given by artists - especially those who have had long and successful careers - there is so much to be learned.  I'm fortunate in that my local university presents many such lectures  and everyone is  welcome.  It's fun to be in the middle of a large student gathering - the girls in incredibly short shorts with their legs twisted up beneath them, the guys draped like drunken daddy long legs! - ahh youth!!

Last night's talk was by Kendall Buster who makes giant installations for large atrium spaces.  She was talking about living in the "crazy creative field" that is art, where design is an object, a peep into the world of hypothesis and dreams.   Like many of us, her first medium and first love was fabric.  When she first started to work with metal, she folded, bent, overlapped and  "stitched" the panels together with screws! She felt that looking back it was possible to recognize your style early on in your practice -   a thought which opens up possibilities for cogitation in a further blog!

 The first work she showed (right after grad school) was rather solid  looking  building shapes that you could walk into but soon she replaced the metal panels with fabric:

Garden Snare, 1998, Kreeger Museum, Washington, DC, shadecloth. steel
She was very open about her design inspirations: she was exploring two things: the idea of skeletons - the metal wire covered with mesh (initially she used paper, but soon began to use various synthetic fabrics that were much more translucent).  The original shapes were based on shells, cells and membranes.   She played with the idea of inside vs outside...are you vulnerable inside?  as in a fully lit glass house at night?  or are you hidden and protected when the light is on the outside, and the dark on the inside. Field vs ground, negative vs positive space.

It wasn't long before she turned to using all white fabric and "floated" the structures off the floor - initially at only about 4 or 5 fit and the viewers had to crawl around under them to see them!!  It would be fun to suspend quilts like this - horizontally with the light behind.  You would lie on the floor and see the quilt floating above you - a great reference to the original idea of quilts as horizontal covers above you.  (hmm...I wonder if I could propose this to the next venue that wants to show my work!!)
However, boring things like insurance regulations, soon  had the white structures elevated into atriums - suspended by steel cables, sometimes from existing beams, as determined by the architects.

Ms Buster didn't mention fungi as an inspiration but her strata series really made me think of the horizontal tree fungi I've seen:
Topograph, 2010, San Francisco International Airport. .
New Growth/Stratum Model, 2009, Suyama Space, Seattle, WA.
Kendall talked about being inspired by strata showing us a detailed contour map and then describing the challenge of working from line to plane, AND doing this within the context of architecture  very often all about the grid.  Her stratum structures are individual planes with the edges indicating line and the cables referencing the grid - a wonderful way of combining all the elements to create unity.

  She prefers to work in white, describing herself as chromophobic!! But with such textures created by the layers of fabric and light, there is no need for color -  the artistic vision is fully realized without it.

Much to inspire, and much to be in awe of - not the least being the incredibly complicated details of designing, fabricating and mounting such structures.  Fascinating the fact that she has dealt with some of the same design inspirations as I have been interested in: inside vs outside (are we looking in, or are we looking out) and as I've seen students in my workshops tackle:  Elaine - remember your fungi??

So - if you have a chance - do check out the lectures at your local art school - and, if you have been, thanks for reading!   All comments will be thoroughly read and enjoyed!!  Please do not restrain yourselves!!
PS - I'm looking forward to my workshop on Cape Cod in October (see side bar for details and contact info) - we're going  to do a little dyeing, and then explore abstract art.  Lots of designing, lots of one on one - you can make one quilt and finish it, get two pinned together, or work on designs!


Georgina said...

Great post, giving me the butt kick to get out more and see what my local gallery is doing. I love the idea of having to crawl to view a work. I recently saw an Anthony Gormley large sculpture of a cubic human form. Inside the space changed in angle and dimension and was very dark. DH and I crawled and climbed around like kids, in near to full darkness. It was amazing to me that even in darkness, other participants maintained social distance from each other, without fail!! We Brits are very polite!!

Nina Marie said...

Thanks for the reminder to check out the lecture and movies schedules of the local universities here - we're lucky - we have 5 all within a half hour of us and there is always something interesting (and cheapie) going on. Ohhh and btw - my husband who tends to work on a lot of metal roofs at the universities says that his crews love early spring and early fall - that's when all the short skirted "yummy-britches" come out. I call him a dirty old man - but it reminds me of my shirt skirt days (hmmm now that Tessa will be in college in a couple of year - he might not find the joke so funny - LOL)

Jackie said...

Hearing an artist speak or reading an artist's biography or seeing really new work stretches my mind and ignites my imagination!