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Indepth Arts News:

1999-12-08 until 2000-12-24
Boston, , USA United States of America

RELAX! is a mixed-media installation exploring the conflicting elements of comfort and anguish. I propose to create an environment of domestic furniture containing hundreds of feet of videotape, woven through and around the objects. The content of the tape is the documentation of a series of live actions performed on different materials, interpreting words such as hammering, slipping, melting, falling -- words that imply breakdown or anguish as materials are stretched to their limits.

Shelves on the gallery walls will contain stacks of videotapes, all labeled with one of the verbs from the live action video. The videotape, however, rather than being securely stored in its cassette, instead cascades onto the floor and flows around the gallery. The tape is literally woven into the furniture as the seats of the chairs are hand-woven with videotape using traditional patterns, the bed frame is women with videotape, and the hammock is hand-made with rope made with videotape.

All of the furniture will be usable, and I am inviting the viewer to sit or lie down and relax, watch TV (showing images of the original live action performances), listen to an audio tape (the audio track from the live action performances), or browse through a book (containing images and text from the live action performances). The conflict occurs when the viewer, relaxing in a comfortable piece of furniture, realizes that their comfort is literally created by the videotape whose embedded content is a metaphor for contemporary society.

I frequently use materials that are fragile and vulnerable, and that can carry meaning. In the past I have used cast paper as a skin-like surface to carry images and to act as a metaphor for the human body, in the pages of a book or stretched around a site-specific environment. I like to stress the materials that I work with, take them to their extremes and allow them to be suspended between stability and collapse. In RELAX! I am distressing the medium of videotape, using it as a linear structure for a visual idea, and playing with its reference as a recognizable medium that has a wide range of uses in contemporary society.

Biographical Statement: I am an obstinate object maker. From a rigorous academic art training in Scotland, my work has evolved from figurative and organic abstract sculpture into site-specific sculptural installations, from solitary formal objects to sensory environments mixing sculptural objects with time-based media. The human figure is always involved, either literally, metaphorically, or through surrogate objects such as furniture.

Eight years of formal art training have taken me from Portsmouth College of Art in England and Grays School of Art in Scotland, to my Masters degree in Sculpture at the State University of New York at Albany. In recent years my drawings, book projects, and sculptures have been shown at The Drawing Center, The Sculpture Center, and The Center for Book Arts in New York City, and The Print Center in Philadelphia. My mixed-media installations have been shown at the Dieu Donné Gallery in New York, the ARC Gallery Raw Space in Chicago, the Islip Art Museum Project Space on Long Island, and the Pittsburgh Art Center.

Currently, a site-specific installation is in the group exhibition Transatlantic Crossings, which began at the Royal Scottish Academy in Edinburgh and is on tour throughout Scotland.

I have been teaching in art colleges for more years than I care to remember, and presently I hold the position of Chair of Sculpture at Montserrat College of Art in Beverly, MA.

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