OK. I spent a couple of days with this in my kitchen, learned to look at it without anxiety, and decided I love it. It feels like I’ve finally found the right solution for this work. Working through that problem - taking the time to follow an unfamiliar idea to it’s successful resolution, is something I’m particularly proud of.
Let's remember that these started as an offshoots of the plaster plates, were originally cast in plaster, and glued directly to the wall. The first breakthrough came when I convinced by the quietly insightful Christine Pfister that having a body of work that stuck to the wall made no practical sense as a work of art. Nobody wants to spend money on art they can’t take with them when they move.
Up until that moment, I’d felt that the pieces needed to be plaster in order to reference the decorative architectural plasters of 17th and 18th centuries. As soon as I got my head around using plastic, the possibilities exploded. Using the plastic led to the use of the nails, which created the critical space between the figures and the wall.
At this point, I was still working with the original model - that the individual figures would be combined to create narrative vignettes in the space. That was what I did at Eileen Tognini’s, for my show at Pentimenti, and at a couple of private residences this summer. The installation process worked like exactly like I’d imagined it would, but new problems presented themselves as the rubber met the road.
First, scale. I thought the installation at Pentimenti worked well, but I could see that part of its success depended on the scale of the room. Out in the larger gallery, those pieces would just disappear. Second, the pieces turned out to be more dependent on the environment than I had anticipated. Installing pieces in a couple of private homes this summer, I found that if the background color was too strong, or the lighting wasn’t right, the pieces flattened out, and the relief as lost. Third, in a larger space, the vignettes just didn’t have the same impact I’d imagined. They looked good, but they didn’t look like enough.
This frame, to my mind, solves all those problems. The frame keeps the scale manageable (duh), and I can control the color. As I mentioned in the last post, I’m no longer trying to control the light - although now it should makes more sense why I would think I needed to. Finally, the all-over composition is enough. It’s visually overwhelming in the way I always thought these pieces needed to be. I had to give up some of the narrative quality to get there, but I think that’s a good thing. In fact, I’m now thinking that the whole idea of a narrative was somehow limiting . It’s just another one example of how you have to kill your darlings - how the initial inspiration can end up being the idea you need to overcome for the piece to succeed.