Materials - Rashid Johnson

I have been thinking about an artists choice of materials. What got me thinking about it was reading an interview with Rashid Johnson in Art in America. The choice of materials and objects Johnson uses are infused with both personal and social significance.  He places them within a formal structure that is often architectural and references the domestic which not only fascinates and entices you to think but the work is drop dead gorgeous (at least on-line I have yet to see in person).

I love the smooth sleek lines and the reflective quality of the material he uses in this work literally with the use of mirrored tiles

or in this with black ceramic tile

He creates the look of an altar. His abstraction is successful because of the symmetry and simplicity of the line against the grid of the tile edges.  But there is a tension in the abstraction at the focal point as he breaks the edges with paint.  He presents a literal introduction of the hand in contrast to the chosen objects strategically placed or held on shelves.

I admire how he plays with pattern using a zebra skin on an oriental rug.  Johnson adds gold embroidery which references the tradition and cultural heritage of rug making.

What's on the wall or on the floor what do we walk up to and see?   What do we look down on or walk on? The notion of what is precious what is a status symbol? Examining that which has been taken from other cultures stolen or poached. Johnson shows tension not just in issues of race but class in his choice of objects and how he presents them.

Here is a video clip of him talking about his work:


Stand! #8 Protest Series Part 2

I was delighted to have Stand! accepted in the 2012 Westmoreland Juried Biennial. The juror was Kerry Oliver-Smith, Curator of Contemporary Art, Samuel P. Harn Museum of Art, University of Florida, Gainesville, FL.  My first installation and thankfully not far from home.

I completely under estimated how much space it would take to pack up and move.  I had to rent a van in the 11th hour.  Randy was awesome he was able to assist at a moment's notice.

The size of the installation varies according to venue.  The potential number of heads used is 25 - 52.  When I saw the number of pieces accepted into the show I guessed that I wouldn't be using all 52 but was prepared to none the less.

Packing them was a challenge.  I originally thought I would wrap the stands end to end with a moving blanket but none available big moving day I guess.  So I wrapped them in disposable paint cloths.  To protect the bases from chipping during travel I thought I would wrap them with thin foam padding also out of stock so I cut up insulation material.  

Giant zipper ziploc bags are wonderful for head storage and packing up drop cloths.

The initial unpacking took up a lot of room.  I fear the museum staff thought I was going to take up the entire floor!  In fact I was putting them together and getting acclimated to the surroundings.  I love installing artwork it reminds me of a technical rehearsal in the theater it is quiet, unruly and exciting.

The head count and that is just one table...

Starting to pull them all together.  I am used to working in two dimensions so I am still feeling my way around presentation varying the height of each stand plus intermingling the pattern.  Not to mention this is the first exhibition for Stand!  I anticipate it will change according to venue. 

Next the placement of the two onlookers.

Almost there with Barbara Jones, Chief Curator in the background in the shot.  I thought I took a photo of her but apparently not oversight on my part.  I was a bit overwhelmed with the entire process, wonderfully so and Barbara was helpful and generous with her time.  She did a wonderful job installing the show more on that later.

The final shot pre-opening.  A total of 32 heads used.   A tremendous learning experience from beginning to end.