The Shapes of Spaces

sculpture

Installation view, Chicago Works: Amanda Williams, MCA Chicago. July 18 – December 31, 2017. Photo: Nathan Keay, © MCA Chicago

Upon first glance, Amanda Williams’s Reliquary 1: To Unlearned People This May Seem to be Full of Nothing and Void of Humanity looks exactly as described in the title. Cut from sheets of plywood, the piece appears like a small house, constructed from panels painted white, and consisting mostly of void, where the wood has been removed. However, on closer examination, one can see that each sheet of plywood is actually a figure — the rectangular holes represent lots, the wood that remains represents streets, and the entire house is folded from the flat surface of a map. This is a house that has been built from a map of Englewood, a neighborhood in South Chicago. Continue reading

A House for Summer

House for summer sculpture

House for Summer 20th anniversary performance, 2007.

Struggling up the hillside in 100 degree temperatures, I peered through the dusty firs and pines, to see a small cluster of birch trees. If they appear out of place even within the variety of species represented in the Hoyt Arboretum in Portland, Oregon, that is because they are— these trees are part of a living sculpture called House for Summer created by artist Helen Lessick. Continue reading

Connecting Lines through History: Portland Art Museum’s Center for Contemporary Native Art

Sculpture Portland

Recurring Chapters in the Book of Inevitable Outcomes by Brenda Mallory. Image courtesy of the Portland Art Museum.

The Portland Art Museum’s Center for Contemporary Native Art is not a large space, but the curators always manage to squeeze a great deal of work into it, by working in multiple dimensions. This certainly holds true for the current Connecting Lines show, featuring Brenda Mallory (Cherokee Nation) and Luzene Hill (East Band Cherokee). Continue reading

John Yeon’s Quest for Beauty

John Yeon State Natural Area, photo courtesy Portland Art Museum

I’ve always been fascinated by architecture, as it is both a large scale form of sculpture, and a form of three-dimensional art that is mostly inaccessible to artists that can easily work in other mediums. But even among architects, there are those that take their work to a scale even larger, and begin to shape the landscape, as well as the interior spaces that humans like to inhabit. Continue reading

Fitting the Human Within Nature

Umbel Series, by Jenni Ward. Photo by Bill Bishoff, courtesy of UCSC Arboretum.

Nature is inspiration to many artists. But while natural form has inspired generations of artists, today many are finding source material not purely within the plants and animals, the leaves and seeds, flowers and rocks that we think of immediately when we consider the definition of “nature.” More and more commonly, artists are drawn to the juxtaposition between the natural world and the human world. Continue reading

Nested Transmuter Cycle: A Boulder into the Pond

Installation view, Nested Trasmuter Cycle, by MSHR. Courtesy of Interstitial.

I often feel that time is an unspoken quality of sculptural work. Of course, time is inescapable, and so any sculpture that we view must occur over time. The time we spend looking at the work, the time it takes to walk around the sculpture to see it from all angles, the time to sculpt it, which is inscribed in its surface and structure. Time does not stop affecting a work of sculpture, either. Eventually, any material crumbles to dust. Every solid substance is secretly in motion, whether changing form, decomposing away, or slowly moving through space, even as it adheres to the surface of our spinning planet. Continue reading