Lynne Harlow: Big Interventions, Minimal Elements

Lynne Harlow Sculpture

Against the Velvet of the Long Goodbye, 2013. Fender guitar and amp, vinyl rain curtain, tinted light site-specific installation: MINUS SPACE, Brooklyn, NY. Courtesy of MINUS SPACE

Reducing Work To Its Essence

It takes courage to be spare. Artists have to trust audiences to understand minimal work or be brave enough not to care if they don’t.

Reductive artist Lynne Harlow has had solo shows at MINUS SPACE in Brooklyn, the de Cordova Museum in Lincoln, MA, the Chapin School in NY and Cade Tompkins Project Space in Providence, RI. She often orchestrates dance, music and sound “reactions” to her work, either on or off-site. Her work was selected for ArtForum’s Best Of Issue in 2012.

Lynne Harlow Sculpture

So I Built a Raft, 2013. Vinyl rain curtain, tinted light, 55″ x 55″ x 55″. Site-specific installation: deCordova Sculpture Park and Museum, Lincoln, MA. Courtesy of the artist

Lynne Harlow asks “How little is enough? How much can be taken away before a piece crumbles? I arrive at my pieces by reducing physical and visual information. This process of reduction is ultimately intended to be an act of generosity. In each piece, I’m looking for the point at which these reductions allow me to give the most. It’s an appealing contradiction because it prompts one to reconsider the concept of abundance and the nature of giving”.

Harlow works in all media – whatever gets her to where she seems to urgently need to be, whether it’s laser-cut Plexiglass, acrylic fibers, chiffon, painted aluminum, plastic net, string, theater curtains, vinyl, music, guitars, amplifiers. Wherever her materials land, the work is often Day-Glo bright, powerful, yet spare. Her work is minimal, but not at all quiet. As her Minus Space statement says, “With restricted use of very particular materials, sheer and lightweight, the installations suggest the presence of light and the absence of weight”.

Basking In Light

Harlow’s use of Day-Glo vinyl and fabrics wryly references both the hot and the cool of modern spaces. Yes, we’ve always basked in this kind of bright sunlight, but her work’s intense color calls attention to an ‘un-nature’ – or certainly a super-charged electrical nature – that evokes a place we want to be.

In a time when curators are more interested in interdisciplinarity than they’ve ever been, Harlow’s work cannily lends itself to collaboration with dancers, musicians and videographers. Her pieces have many lives: as objects, as interactions, as performances and in an online-afterlife of recordings and videos.

Lexi Lee Sullivan’s curatorial statement for rhythm…distance, a rooftop performance at the de Cordova Museum says, “While she pulls inspiration from the work of Minimalists as well as Light and Space artists from the 1960s, she breaks new ground by also incorporating sound into her investigations. Projecting music or noise into her spaces, she not only creates new iterations of colorful form but also tempts viewers to discover the ways in which space, color, and sound inform and engage with one another”. Her work has a willingness to drink up space while creating volume in both the occupation of space and sound.

Lynne Harlow Sculpture

Against the Velvet of the Long Goodbye, 2013. Fender guitar and amp, vinyl rain curtain, tinted light site-specific installation: MINUS SPACE, Brooklyn, NY. Courtesy of MINUS SPACE

An installation entitled The Velvet Of The Long Goodbye was accompanied by this statement, “With their limited components, the installations delineate spaces that can be navigated and explored, both visually and physically, by their viewers…These pieces rely on the participant to absorb and synthesize the given information and thus complete the piece with his own thoughts and actions. Most important is the resulting relationship of trust and collaboration between the artist and the participant.

We see Harlow’s unusual generosity. She offers audiences a gift of beautiful light to do with what they will.

Find out more with these links

Lynne Harlow:

De Cordova rooftop performance:

Cade Tompkins:

Old Stone Bank performance of Tangerine, Providence, RI:

Harlow is a member of American Abstract Artists:

2 responses

  1. “How little is enough?” – Indeed, with a very detailed piece of artwork the viewer/consumer does just that: view/consume. With “minimalism” of the sort he/she is forced to “think and feel” for her/himself. The only worry I’d have that these strings gather dust through electrostatic and are probably not easily cleaned …

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