Plodding through the pain

I will be thankful when this project is over and I have a chance to sit up straight for longer than a day.  The combined bending and repetitive motions are starting to take their toll and even with the use of assistants (4 so far) I'm slowly devolving into a troll.

BUT, I am liking where this project is ending up.  All and all I'm pleased with it... am I totally happy with it? No. There are several issues to deal with before the final showing of it.  Namely other classes, my own undergrad class, and meeting with a lighting specialist (thank you Ric) to finalize how this is going to look in the space I have available to me.  Until then here are some progress photos as I race to the finish.


A statement of sorts

My advisor, Kelly Malec-Kosak, gave me an assignment to write out an artist statement either with the current project or something more in general.  The idea was to get all the information out of my head and to worry about editing down later.  This was a great exercise and helped to nail down, for me at least, where I think this project is going and what might be a possible thesis for next year.  It is just how it appears in my sketchbook, no editing has been done yet... so that's your warning.

Originally this piece was supposed to be more of a tunnel in structure.  A support system suspended from the ceiling using strands of monofilament to create the walls of the tunnel.  Glass vessels would be hung throughout the walls to have encapsulated fragments of time, small found objects, such as the watch one would get from retirement.  Since then the project has evolved.  I use evolved because now the shape is more organic, organic in the terms of deep sea crustaceans or krill.  The rectangular ceiling has now morphed into something more hydrodynamic and would look at home in the water.  The monofilament is still there, not as walls but now tendrils.  Hundreds of tendrils giving this organism the look of a monstrously constructed jellyfish or squid.

The new shapes now denotes a new purpose.  The tunnel is gone and in it's place is something alive.  Something that wants to protect it's young.  The irony is the animal shape that manifested is not something that sticks around to protect it's children.  That instinct is largely reserved to mammals.  This animal presented itself as a manifestation of me wanting to hold on to my daughter for as long as possible.  She's already 9, and the next 9 years will fly by for the both of us.  Being in school is a good decision for me, but not so good for the relationship with my child. This is a poignant revelation for me because my father did the same thing, only with work not school.  My parents divorced when I was young and I hated him for not being there.  I think I'm getting a taste of what he must of gone through and only now at 38 do I realize that he did what was best for him and me with what he had.

The clean steel and mesh is my support and shielding for my child.  The monofilament is the decisions I can help her make going from parent to, hopefully, friend and maybe advisor.  The short strands are from when she was little and the worst things were "put that down" or "don't eat that".  As time goes on those decisions, and their circumstances, will get larger and more complex.  "No baby, I don't think you should go out with Bobby  because he's an ass"  I think one glass piece nestled into the monofilament can represent this situation, at least for me.

There are several sources of inspiration for this project, the main being the For Use/Numen design collective out of Europe.  They have designed giant funnel webs as performance backdrops made out of stretchable packing tape.  The kind of tape used to hold cartons of boxes together on pallets.  This very common, industrial made, material being used in a very unique way.  With the right lighting it looks like glass.  The same glints, highlights, and translucency of glass.  Any questions I may have had of plastic as a glass substitute, or forgery, were answered.  Larry Bergner is another source.  His suspended, wire-screen walled installations were useful in figuring out how to pair screen with an armature.  A more philosophical influence would be Eva Hesse, although her work is an influence as well most notably "Accession III",'67.  Hesse's take on process is what struck me most.  As an aspect of "making time" and "perceiving time, so the form grows out of the process".  This resonates strongly with me, but I would go on to add loyalty, determination, and a dialogue with the work.  By dialogue I mean the process is a conversation the piece and I working on to complete each other.  

The more research I do into process oriented artists, the more it feels like I fit.  Having been in glass for over 10 years, production glassblowing is a viable living and that is all process.  I think a personal challenge now is to take that process and see what it has to say about mass production,consumption, uniqueness, and the making of objects precious just because they are hand made.  Using other glass sources like readily available window glass is another avenue to explore.  Clear plastics used with glass is another.  Can they, the glass and plastic, be similar enough to each other that you can't tell which is which until you picked it up?  What kind of statement does make in a disposable society?

Which leads to interactivity.  I want(would like) direct physical interaction with some of my work.  To let the viewer have an opportunity to actually dictate what the final piece will look like before teardown is... intoxicating? exciting?  Definitely intriguing.  There will be a level of optical and mental interaction.  There's no escaping that.  Tactile interaction is different.  Usually it is reserved for the kid's section  at the local science/art museum.  Why couldn't it be in the white cube?  Does the gallery always have to remain sterile and sealed?  Forever archival?

Part of me thinks that this is a hold over from production glass blowing.  I made objects to use, to hold, there was a utility there.  A satisfaction knowing I made something that someone wanted to use physically. (I guess "true" art does the same thing to a certain extant, mentally.  However since everyone will, usually, have a unique experience with an artwork this is much harder to quantify.  A cup is a cup, there are only so many uses for it)  I think there is a way to bridge fine art and craft, at least it feels that way.  Multiples, singularities, and interactivity would all play strong roles in this type of work to harness process to inform the content and resultant forms.  On the multiples the form would be less important due to the sheer numbers I would want.  The singularities would attempt to tackle more formal aspects of glass sculpture with form, light, translucency, and/or transparency.  Interactivity can be tied directly to multiples or singularities but can be considered violent in either regard as broken glass will be the outcome.