All is Leaf
This series of seven wall sculptures is shown in tandem with four freestanding sculptures in the forms of animals on pedestals. The walls are made of aluminum and are then densely clad with thousands of ceramic, quatrefoil leaves that transform the aluminum sculptures into green walls. The forms of the walls are inspired by a 1964 Robert Morris exhibition that explored the plinth as sculpture. Well-known construction forms - the L beam, the plank, the platform, for example - were blown-up in scale and exhibited as sculpture. I aimed to remake these canonical forms as hedges and pair them with sculpture that appear overgrown, and abstracted by their foliate encrusted surfaces. The companion sculptures are inspired by ornamental “green man” motifs from the 17th century, a running hare (“The Departure” 2009), a fox, and lion, all seated on pedestals equally obscured by leaves. The juxtaposition of ‘Minimalist’ and figurative works, all overgrown, navigate the territory that exists somewhere between the language of the decorative and the monumental.
The title of this show echoes Goethe’s enigmatic statement culminating a 12-year botanical journey to discover the Urpflanze, or Eve of all plants, with the recognition that all biological plant diversity stems from a single formal structure – the leaf. This idealist, and arguably Romantic, theory is one I have found sympathetic to my own search for forms that define and illuminate the realm between the real and the ideal.
My work has consistently explored how we construct our environments. Rather than treat this problem exclusively in material terms, one of my primary interests lies in the imaginary or psychological. In other words, how do we create meaning with the objects with which we surround ourselves? I view my studio as an arena to address the dynamic processes of what Roland Barthes dubs “naturalization,” asking how we define what is natural versus cultural, interior versus exterior. Recently the surfaces and structures of my works have become less gestural and increasingly ordered, thereby heightening a sense of artifice and theatricality, while exploring ideas about distance: physical, art historical, geographical and psychological.
Driving my recent work is an interest in creating reflexive landscapes, constructions that refer to their own construction. I am interested in how constructed settings enable, and perhaps limit, what can happen within their bounds. My interest is in creating a space akin to a stage set, where suspended disbelief enables the viewer to be transported to a place of reverie. While installation work is typically associated with interior spaces, I situate my artistic practice within what Rosalind Krauss has influentially referred to as the “expanded field of sculpture.” There is an inbetweenness in my recent projects, both indoor and outdoor, that reference, for example, the garden. They are not just sculpture and not just site. The garden, its historical development, myriad forms, and metaphoric language, has informed my work for many years and is a primary lens through which I understand (perceive) my environment.
In each solo exhibition, I have explored a new arrangement of sculptural elements with the interest of structuring the space and the viewer’s experience differently. For All is Leaf I am again referencing the complexity of a formal garden, however, the hedges are fragmented, obscuring what is behind them and creating a sense of the ruin, of architectural remains, of a garden “gone to seed”, in an effort to disorient the viewer both in time and space.