Featuring dynamic abstract sculptural works by four artists who work primarily in wood, this exhibit explores each artist’s personal vision along with their methodology of making. By employing varying degrees of adding and subtracting material- laminating or carving, sawing and sanding- these artists build form by either giving or taking away. With this mind, process is highlighted, understood and demonstrated with an eye towards clarifying the genesis and emergence of form.
Bringing the works of these four artists together in this space has exceeded the expectations I had when I conceived of the exhibit. Indeed, something magical has emerged from their vicinity to one another. Unexpected commonality has emerged, and differences are complimentary and bring about exciting visual and conceptual conversations. The artists have all created objects that exist in the quotidian realm. Yet they have each folded into these objects their unique ideas and energy, embedding the force of life into the wood they are made from, a material that epitomizes life and growth itself.
-Nancy Sausser, Curator
Foon Sham stacks and laminates wood pieces to build objects that allude to familiar forms- trees, vessels, figures- while also standing firmly in their own presence. Each of the works included in this exhibit are built using a circular format, spiraling upward, ascending vertically to meet the gaze of the viewer. Both elegant and scrappy, these pieces feature fine, smooth curves and staggered, choppy, cracks that reveal the light and air contained within.
This conversation between interior and exterior space is central to both the formal composition of the work, as well as their embedded meaning. While we meet these objects in our own space and on our own terms, there is mystery shining clearly from their center.
For more information about Foon Sham: foonsham.com
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Norma Schwarz also builds her sculptures by stacking and gluing wood to create form. Her pieces revolve in and around themselves, embracing both their outer selves and their interior space, which is revealed through close and careful observation. A longtime Psychoanalyst, teacher and political activist as well as a sculptor, she makes visual the process of “looking into”, using abstraction as another vehicle for understanding and exploration. Beyond words, the pieces feel calm and without fear, willing to confront and accept themselves. These forms are smooth and sensuous, fully integrated and whole.
For more information about Norma Schwartz: normaschwartz-sculptor.com
Rachel Rotenberg’s works in this exhibit are all mounted on the wall. The pieces are both built up and carved into, highlighting shape and surface. While allowing the subtle color variations of the wood to predominate, Rotenberg also selectively adds subtle color to her forms. Arising from her imagination, then brought into being to meet the viewer, Rotenberg’s pieces are endlessly inventive, moving from feeling calm and embracing to off-kilter and precariously positioned. These works, which also contain a vessel-like concern for interior and exterior space, utilize and incorporate the wall as an active compositional and conceptual participant. In this way, the works become portals, moving us metaphorically from the temporal world, in and through to another dimension, perhaps existing just on the other side of the wall.
For more information about Rachel Rotenberg: rachelrotenberg.com
Unlike the other three artists in the exhibit, whose works are objects of imagination made real, Emilie Benes Brzezinski’s sculptures are created from the other direction. Rather than conjuring form, her works rise more from a conversation with material. Using found trees that have fallen naturally, Brzezinski cuts and carves into the existing form, following and shifting shape and weight, creating something new and enhanced. Her methods are rough and ready, as she wields chainsaw and chisel, leaving expressive, dynamic cuts undisguised. While she generally leaves the basic vertical shape of the tree intact, she hollows and lightens, somehow magically bringing new energy to a fallen tree seemingly at the end of its’ natural life cycle. Brzezinski’s works are strong and vital, expressing her individuality while also honoring the tree that gave her the opportunity to create.
For more information about Emilie Benes Brzezinski: thelureoftheforest.com