The structures and forms that I have designed have been constructed by people representing not only dwellings but structures that are primary to their identity and existence as individuals and as a community. My previous work of a year ago is not as separate as it may seem from what I am pursuing currently. Formal aspects of design, construction, interior/exterior environment, as well as space continue on in my latest structures. Above all, I have consistently maintained a satisfy sense of scale and simplicity of overall form allowing the viewer the freedom to seek out individual as well as universal meaning in my constructions.
The work I have done in communities before graduate school till the most recent project involving local high school art students are examples of my passion for using my art ability to communicate and work with people who come from backgrounds differ from mine. Through the common dialogue of art, I am able to bring individuals together as a group to create a statement about where they came from, where they are now and where they want to go in the future. I have worked with people (predominately youth) from different cultural and social backgrounds than myself which impacts my art and the lives of everyone involved.
I define space by creating physical structures that we have all had experiences with to some degree. Some of these primary structures include the schoolhouse, the home, the church and the community center. When a dwelling is peared down to its most simple form all of these institutional spaces offer a sense of shelter and a level of activity. A hundred or more years ago the schoolhouse for many communities served a multi-dimensional purpose: school during the days; town meetings and social gatherings at night; and on weekends the space provided a place for church services and recreational opportunities. The notion of an old schoolhouse can serve the easy function of being nostalgic, but for my work the schoolhouse is a point of departure for discussing the ever changing dynamics of community and how these institutions have evolved into their own within rural and urban settings. Other images and icons of each of these institutions make an appearance in these spaces such as suspended chairs that not only invoke a sense of play but on a deeper level focus on ones own stability and balance as it relates to issues of home life, education or finding religious faith.
The act of physically erecting and constructing these primary structures becomes as important if not more important than the final form. The act of raising barns and houses brought communities together to help out an individual or a family. The performance allowed a dialogue to open up between all members of the community. People naturally assumed a variety of roles during the raising. Individuals for a brief period of time were understood in terms of the task at hand and no longer identified by their usual lot in life.
I have a strong drive concerning mentorship of youth and I am interested in how these primary structures are a part of the lives of adolescent youth. With which do they identify the most with? and why? Teenager years are about finding ones own identity. In the adolescent struggle to abstract a sense of the Self, association and identification is arrived at through the physical spaces they are the most and least comfortable.
Scale is one of the most carefully considered formal aspects of my work. I am determined to accomplish a range of scale. These primary structures have a scale of “doll house size” proportions to demonstrate how a child imitates life through the intermediary of smaller adult likeness (dolls). The second scale is a “tree house size” scale in which the older child no longer uses a doll to imitate life but they become the imitators and the role players. Thirdly a life size scale references our development into adolescents and adulthood where we are no longer the imitators but the true life participants.
Structure, Shelter, Space
My piece entitled Structure, Shelter, Space is built out of 120 lbs. of cotton rope. The structure is suspended two and a half feet about the gymnasium floor....it is to echo a community center structure...the building that this piece is in was built in 1943 and has a large history of having a multi-use purpose...including as a place movies were shown, and sporting events (basketball and a boxing ring). Open bar and social gatherings on weekends would leave the lingering smell of stall beer in the air as the space was used for various religious church services on Sunday mornings. The debris that was in the room was place inside my piece at one time and placed around the structure at another time....the community center serviced a population of ammunitions workers that were to work at the ammunitions facility built near the end of WW II which sits directly across the county highway. The town was once named Badgerville. The structure is approximately 23 feet long 13 feet wide and nearly 18 feet tall....a basketball court is articulated on the inside by the white rope...the entire piece is suspended off of 10 cables fastened to the walls.