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Month: January, 2012

Life and Death, or my current work

Here’s an image of one of the drawings I have been making since August. I learned yesterday that I have to return my skeleton to the university for inventory. I may be able to borrow it again. Still, it is a temporary setback. For me these drawings, comprised of a skeleton shadow overrun with too bright flower shadows interrupted by wallpaper swatches, speak of the relationship between the living to the past. Maybe it’s like the caustic sound of laughter the day after your father dies. Or maybe it’s about how in the brightness of every day there’s a bit of mouldering past  underfoot. I’ll make another 50 and figure it out.

Here is my most recent addition to this new body of work. Cynically, it is titled “Christina’s World” from Andrew Wyeth’s most famous painting of the girl pulling herself up the midwestern hillside. I think she had polio, all I am sure of is that she was unable to walk and the image showed the breadth and limits of her world. Why does this work fit that title? There was something about the diagonal shadow of a skeleton and the way the striped wallpaper bounds, and in so doing, makes the edges of the weeds and the figure tangible.

Christina's World

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The challenge of the solo show.

The exhibit I scheduled yesterday is slated for October at Chase Young Gallery. The challenge is this, I have been building a new body of work that thrills me. But, the gallery and its clients do not yet know my work. Should I introduce myself with a collection of works that represent me over the last ten years? or the last four months?
The image from yesterday’s post is what I am better known for; large (6’x3′) ink drawings of shadows.

It begins…I slated my first solo show for 2012 today

Image 

Here’s a recent work that represents what I have become known for over the past several years. And a few words that describe the thinking behind the work. (below)
I wanted to make shadow sculptures at first; flat rubbery forms that I could peel up from the ground and slap on a wall all sticky and abstract. I could make lots of them and pile car shadows up like so many 14 foot pancakes. Shadows seemed like the perfect byproducts of life; vital and mundane. I set out to capture them but like most art, it didn’t turn out as expected.
It began with a few drawings. I’d find a shadow and set the plastic underneath and draw what I saw. What I saw was a whole new world, utterly familiar, utterly unrecognizable. Ordinary objects cast shadows like space debris. How can a thing be both ‘what the hell?’ and ‘oh sure.’ I was taken. So I spent eight years developing techniques and tools. The drawings are on mylar because, on a transparency, light breathes through the drawing.
After a while the shadows stopped looking like blobs and I started to notice the range of forms from sharp to diffuse and so had to mix inks to catch that range from solid black to areas so light you can’t quite see them, only feel them there. The materials took on a life of their own, contour lines dried quickly and as I filled these, the lines served as channels, holding pools of ink that flowed through the drawings. The pools bubbled and dried leaving marks like geologic forms from evaporated lakes.
I am increasingly driven by a concept of personal archaeologies in which finding lost things, narratives and ideas, and piecing them together to build understanding fails to yield satisfying meaning but is a compelling document of the effort.
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