My career as an artist started in two-dimensions. I have undergraduate and graduate degrees in painting/drawing, and my early installations were basically giant wall-based paintings or drawings, with very little dimensionality involved. Although more recent works have departed from the wall, becoming much more sculptural, an allegiance to drawing and painting is still there–through the creation of shadows on the walls, the interplay between 2D and 3D, or simply the controlled backdrop that the wall provides. Still, it’s been a while since I created a work that really utilizes the wall in an intensive way.
A recent opportunity at Schmidt Artist Lofts got me thinking about the wall again. The lofts are housed in the former Schmidt’s Brewery building in St. Paul. The building is an architectural marvel, a sort of industrial castle. I was immediately captivated by the architecture, and wanted to reference it specifically in the installation’s forms.
The site I was given is prominent–a large wall behind the main desk in the entry of the building, the perfect place for a dramatic statement. However, the functionality of that space also necessitates that the work not be something that someone get tangled in while attempting to walk to the offices. And the work is permanent, so needed to be durable and easy to clean.
The more I studied the space, the more I became excited about a wall-based work with some degree of dimensionality. The painting portion of the project was really important, not only creating a background color and structure, but also creating elements of pattern and texture. And let me tell you, I am fierce with a paint sprayer. Now that I own one…watch out! The spraying allowed me to create some atmospheric effects with the paint, as well as to play with a kind of poor stenciling technique that I’ve been practicing on a smaller scale for months.
Materials also shifted slightly for this work. To ensure durability against UV rays, dust, and general wear, I utilized high quality marine fabrics that actually function much like a cross between a plastic and a textile.
The finished work, Architectural Equipoise, has a strong sense of symmetry and precision, along with some of the organic movement I’ve come to strive for in my work. The slight undulations in the material are what (for me) gives the finished installation a sense of energy.
In many ways, this project provided a nice lead-in to a large-scale permanent work that I’ll be installing at the Children’s Museum of Southern Minnesota late this fall. I am really excited to have the opportunities to create these permanent projects–something I’ve been wanting to do for some time!
Happy summer, and thanks for reading!