Wednesday, December 26, 2018

Surveying the Landscape

Ben Stanwix came from Cape Town where he had already spent a good amount of time on his residency project involving the ways in which we perceive landscape. From that distance, he used google maps to survey the area and then made a gigantic fabric tapestry, titled One, that approximated the digitization he experienced when trying to zoom in.



This strategy continued once Ben arrived - surveying the land and local history from various vantage points and then making work related to the initial perceptions and distortions he encountered. The grid, true north vs. magnetic north, historical images and even the yellow marking on electrical poles all became material for a range of works including drawing, photography, sculpture and assemblage. And the studio was turned into a veritable laboratory for the exploration of materials and form.




Ben gave a wonderful presentation at Artists Tea in Joshua Tree National Park where participants were able to workshop making art pieces using string, ribbon and magnets. Ben also got participants to read texts illustrating the mistranslations that occur when we allow the narrative to run through technology. One was prominently displayed on a rock overlooking the event. 



For his open house, Ben created a very full exhibition of works with One again presiding over things from the nearby rock pile. The open house for was well attended and the work very well received.




Many thanks to Ben for winging it over from such a distance and for reflecting back the local landscape in such an innovative and comprehensive manner.

Friday, December 14, 2018

One woman's trash is another woman's treasure....

Constance Old up-cycles pieces of plastic and paper using the traditional technique of rug hooking. We met at Art Palm Springs 2018, and I liked her work a lot. I immediately had the idea to team Constance up with the Joshua Tree Clean Team, a tireless group who keep the desert looking close to pristine. She was very interested in the idea, and I put her in touch with Cynthia Heaton, lead organizer. 





Constance arrived in October, 2018 just a few days ahead of the next Clean Team outing. She carried out a test run, carefully organizing a taxonomy of her findings. On the appointed day, Constance went out with the team - eleven people filled thirteen large trash bags in just one hour! Constance hauled all thirteen bags back to the studio for processing.



 

She sorted the items, selecting the most promising pieces and refilling the bags with her discards. Selected items were then washed and sorted into categories by size, color and material. Constance then began making work. Her pieces in Joshua Tree differed from those in her home studio. They were much larger in scale and composed of differing elements. Box springs, pop cups, a thoroughly recycled fridge, traffic cones, shoes and other jetsam were all incorporated.



















Constance installed one large sculpture, titled Always One Shoe, Never Two  in an empty advertising frame along Hwy 62 - a hint at the work to come. She also participated in the Artist's Tea held weekly in Joshua Tree National Park. Constance brought Always One Shoe with to the talk and led the group through a weaving exercise. She concluded her residency with a very well attended and received open house featuring the diverse array of work she had created.








Many thanks to Constance for venturing cross country to help clean the desert and make compelling work from her finds.