Undergraduate BFA, Spring 2001
We shape clay into a pot,
But it is the emptiness inside
That holds whatever we want.
-Tao Te Ching
Although the material with which we build our lives has changed (lycra, olean, computer networks), in most ways, the heart and soul of our lives has not (the stuff of shakespeare: relationships, politics, hopes, regrets). It’s this second material which interests me. Or, more particularly, the space that these things occupy.
A Zen Garden is the most physical example of this mental space. As a designer I build modern variations on these gardens, containers that can hold this space. I replace stone, water, and sand, with some industrial materials like felt, steel, and plexiglass.
We all create fictional spaces to contain the immaterial of our lives. Nations, movies, stock markets all exist nowhere but in us. Though we draw borders, build backdrops, and compute numbers to help identify the shape of these spaces, they dissolve without a mind to believe them.
As an artist, I measure this fictional space. I am driven to make it accessible and apparent.
Robert Irwin describes how a blind man shifts his awareness to the end of his walking stick. If the blind man tries to explain how this happens, the fiction snaps, Irwin says. In my sculpture, I slow down my audience with lids, drawers, and layers. These aspects direct them towards my space while their participation holds their attention to maintain the fiction. As they open my pieces, their awareness shifts from their eyes to their hands and to the cool feel of metal, the comfort of cloth.
Inside, a physical force or a non-specific memory fills the interior. Plexiglass under tension or a fabric lining which reacts to a push or pull – these things confirm the weight of empty space. The energy of this space dissipates the forms I build … leaving only fiction in its place.