Artist Statement

from AT PLAY at Hodges Taylor Art Constultancy

The Latin phrase Ludere est contemplari as discussed in James Schall's On the Seriousness of Human Behavior creates an effective framework for the pieces included in this exhibition.  It was the Greek philosophers who initiated the dialogue in search of a deeper understanding of how work (serious matters) and play (activities of leisure) fit into life. Ludere est contemplari translates 'to play is to contemplate'.  For Aristotle, the interesting thing about play was that it was unnecessary, this freedom, from always performing for a particular result, is what made acts of play noble and what he considered one of the highest activities we could engage in. 

 

How work and play are understood is dependent upon the individual’s experience.   I have come to define work and play as a specific mental state that is heightened in my studio practice as I produce functional objects and sculpture in wood.  I'm looking for ways to interweave these disparate attitudes: work often associated with a seriousness and play with freedom and frivolity, and to flesh out the idea of “to play is to contemplate”.  In this exhibition I'm pairing structure, stability, and systems with intuition, improvisation, and spontaneity.  The effort to meld play with its counterpart while making physical objects is a touchstone in my process and continues to provide new and fruitful spaces for contemplation and meditation.

 

The work in this exhibition takes the basic opposing forces of seriousness and spontaneity to examine several pieces where the use of found materials intermingles with fabricated and painted forms in wood. Using this as a stage to magnify the relationship humans have to their personal spaces and surrounding built environments, my own sense of play comes to light.  Raw construction sites not yet inhabited by interior decor or defined by function serve as a backdrop to look more closely at the psychology of place making and however thoughtfully or thoughtlessly our environments shift around us.   A child uses block play to simulate an innate need to build and understand form, while at the same time her caregivers may tend to the environment around her by cleaning, creating order, and making new and more efficient spatial arrangements.  It is my observation that both young and mature minds seem to take pleasure in the fluidity of a changing space and by engaging with the simple objects they are surrounded by.

 

James Schall asks, "What do you 'do' when all else is “done”?”.  When you are free from tasks of work, what acts of play do you engage in?  Studying and collecting found materials, making and arranging new forms (functional or not), and using color for expression are my forms of play, it is what I do even when all else is not done.  As an artist, I recognize freedom of expression as both a privilege and a responsibility, it is my belief that intentional acts of play, improvisation, and risk taking are necessary for contemplation which leads to constructive growth and new levels of discovery.

MORELAND - SIMONE DESOUSA GALLERY

MORELAND

MoreLand, a curatorial project by Sarah Turner and Iris Eichenberger

Dates: October 21, 2017 - December 23, 2017.

THE CALL:

Moreland takes its inspiration from one of our favorite places: hardware stores. So often, a beautiful brush, a perfectly proportioned bucket, an endless spool of chain, or a simple ball of twine has captured us. And, we’ve delighted in the regional differences of hardware stores – what one sees, needs and expects in Munich, Germany is different than what’s in stock in Athens, Georgia. We’re interested in how regional differences show up in these straightforward stores.

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I've made 24 boxes, four different groups of 6 identical boxes.  I took a field trip to Grassy Creek Hardware, one of my favorite hardware stores in the world.  This is the kind that you forces you to meander, trip over brooms and buckets, stumble into various gadgets you didn't know you needed, and then maaaaybe, after staring at the right spot for way too long, you just might find what you are looking for.  Do not. I repeat. Do NOT go if you are in a hurry  or on any kind of schedule.  Check out takes at least 15 minutes.  There is not a single computer in the entire store, I'll show you the crazy making stacks of paper sometime.

I came home with a box of random stuff I picked out based purely on its color, texture, form NOT function.  The good ol' boys who run the store chuckle and (thankfully) don't ask too many questions.

 The image roll to the left shows a bit of the progress.  I'm making these boxes to hold specific items I found at this Grassy Creek Hardware store.  6 mini eyeglass fix-it kits. 6 mini cans of WD-40. 6 neon orange 4 in 1 tools, and 6 bundles of long stick matches.  The boxes are made using laminated 2x4's that are carved, painted, and adorned with construction tape, screws/staples, zip ties, and rope. 

GHANA 2017

PROCESS, PRODUCT, PLACE: 

INVESTIGATING WOOD PRACTICES BEHIND THE GHANAIAN FANTASY COFFINS. 

It is a Saturday afternoon in a small farming community on the coastal plain near Accra, Ghana’s capital. A fearsome lion is carried above the heads of a colorful, jostling throng. With bristling mane and retail erect, it is an object both symbolic and functional, for this is the coffin of a renowned hunter being taken for burial (Secretan 108).

Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop

This year I received a World Wood Day Research Grant.

In December I will travel to Accra, Ghana to work closely with the Kane Kwei Carpentry workshop.  In March I will present my research and documentation at the World Wood Day Conference, location and time TBD.

A huge thank you goes out to Eric Anang Adjetety who has been so generous to me throughout this process.  I will stay with his family and friends while in Accra.  Thank you, Eric!

excerpts from my grant proposal:

This research project will illuminate and define the tools and techniques used in the construction and surface treatment of traditional Ghanaian wood fantasy coffins. This information will be primarily pursued through a relationship between Ghanaian master carpenter Eric Anang and U.S. artist Ellie Richards at the Kane Kwei Carpentry Workshop in Accra, Ghana. These fantasy coffins vary in significance among different groups, allowing for a wide breadth of appreciation; although these objects are regarded by certain fields as contemporary art and revered by many for their cultural definition little is recorded on the skills, tools, and materials used to create these monumental forms. Acquiring the wood construction and finishing treatment techniques behind a Ghanaian fantasy coffin through the apprenticeship model will expand the possibility for and promote opportunity of cultural exchange between Western and African perspectives within the field of woodworking and contemporary art. 

Wood is a humble medium and one that permeates everyday life. From a simple spoon to the structures we inhabit, this organic material can provide many ways to live a comfortable life. Specifically in the Ga culture, wood takes on a role that extends beyond a lived life, it has a crucial and customary role as a celebrated, symbolic form used in funerary practices. Among the Ga, wood becomes servant to an ancient custom involving the construction of a wooden coffin that honors the deceased by taking on a representational form relating to the successes had in their life. An investigation into the Ghanaian coffin makers approach to sculptural woodworking could be understood more widely allowing for an expanded cultural understanding of these rich, complex objects. 

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