Recently I have given a lot of thought to how material choices factor into the conceptual aspects of my studio practice. As an MFA student I am constantly challenged to defend or at least examine every formal choice I make. Some might say I have a materials obsession, others might call it a diversion, one critic accused me of having a “materials fetish.”
Through the course of this exploratory journey, I have spent countless hours peppering Home Depot employees with questions, watching DIY videos on YouTube and emailing Golden’s brilliant chemists but these small technical victories brought me no closer to understanding the deeper question, the why? So, I started looking to other artists for help answering that question. Oscar Tuazon, Valerie Hegarty and Sally Mankus are three living artists whose work exists in this space.
All three artists engage with the effects of life and time on objects or spaces. Sally Mankus combines a multitude of techniques such as photo transfer, acrylic skins lifting carbon & rust deposits, sculpture, assemblage and even audio to create installations that conjure images of domestic life. Incorporating touches like the pink napkin above give her work a sense of tender intimacy.
Perhaps it’s because of Tuazon’s background in architecture and urban studies but his work has a cold industrial edge. As with Mankus’s work, there is a familiarity about Tuozon’s sculptures but instead of delicate table linens we get fused desk chairs and shattered glass. In his work the infrastructure is exposed; process is displayed as wall art in the form of stretched drop cloth as paintings.
While Mankus and Tuazon combine found objects with industrial and fine art materials to create something new, Valerie Hegarty uses unexpected materials to deceive; creating fantastical site specific installations. She manipulates paper, foamcore, paint, wire, fabric and anything else she can to mimic decaying spaces and antiques; paintings drip, wallpaper peels and furniture crumbles. Hegarty uses artifice to create the illusion of substance and age forcing us to reengage with our ideas about the past.
Post by Elizabeth Ayerle