slightly wonky

Ursula von Rydingsvard at the DeCordova
June 2, 2011, 2:02 pm
Filed under: Collage | Tags: , , , ,

I went to see the work of Ursula von Rydingsvard at the DeCordova this week.  She works mostly with massive hunks of red cedar, which she roughly saws to create soft, organic forms.  The sculptures reference domestic items: bowls, spoons, plates.  They are massive.  She also marks the sculptures with graphite…you can see her sketchy pencil marks, notes, labels, arrows, etc….but she also uses the graphite to create marks that emphasize, or directly relate to, the forms.  I liked seeing the marks of her “process”.

Some of the things that struck me were:  the smell of the red cedar before you even enter the gallery…it’s a very strong smell.  I can’t imagine what her studio/workshop must be like.  Breathing in that air, thick with the smell of cedar, must be almost…noxious?  Not for the faint of heart.  Also, there were no obvious “fasteners”, or anything holding the forms together.  I did notice one end of a threaded rod with a nut on the underside of a large bowl scuplture.  But besides that…these enormous forms, while clearly composed of numerous individual pieces of wood,  somehow formed a single piece.  This seems effective, as you really focus on the wood, and there is an odd scale to all of them…a scale not related to a person.  Seeing nails or screws would have eroded that scaleless quality.

These are really impressive works to see.  But for some reason…they did not resonate with me as strongly as Leonardo Drew’s earlier show in the same space.  I think that Drew’s work had small, very personal items buried in his large, tumultuous sculptures.  von Rydingsvard’s work did not have that intimacy.  Her works are imposing, bold, and beautifully made.

She also has some works of handmade paper with thread and pigment, which were amazing.  Go see it!

My collage class this week was a bit of a challenge for me.  We had to make three collages: the first was a collage with only found material, using squares/rectangles only…the second was an interpretation of the first, but with only handmade material, and the third was a combination of the two.  As per usual, I had a really difficult time working with the found material.  I really struggled with this!  Here it is:

Hmmm.  No matter what “found” material I am working with, I always feel that I don’t have good things to work with.  I would be really interested to have myself and someone else work with the exact same magazine, and see how they work with these materials that I feel are “impossible”.

Here is the second one…which was an “interpretation” of this first one, but with only handmade material:

I guess I like that better…a bit more chaotic.  The thing is…I wouldn’t made that collage from scratch.  What I mean is:  if I could have just made an independent collage, it would have been easier, and probably turned out better.  Instead, I was trying to interpret the first one, which I found to be difficult…especially when I was lukewarm about the first one!

Here is the last one:

Hmm.  I’m just much happier when I don’t have to work with photos or magazines.  Comments?  Suggestions? 

So, who is your favorite collage artist?  (besides me, of course…KIDDING!)


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