On Dry Goods and Drywall 2013
A yard sale is a collage of the unwanted that juxtaposes disparate items against each other. A yard sale glues differing functions together. Cultures collide. A mass produced toaster’s polish reflects a hand knit wool scarf. A Dobbs-Omega Homburg hat rests on the light bulb of a shade-less floor lamp. A 1950’s Planters’ Lightly Salted Mixed Nuts tin contains metal nuts, bolts, number 6 drywall screws, bone buttons, shell buttons and plastic buttons. The souvenir Leaning Tower of Pisa tilts toward a toothpick rendition of the Eifel Tower.
Years ago I purchased an adjustable mannequin dress form and a pair of Dutch wooden shoes at a community yard sale. Gradually collecting studio dust, these artifacts visible in my peripheral vision, embed into my psyche until one day they ooze from me forming a new project.
The dress form has hardware that allows its components to slide and adjust the size of the maniken. It allows one body form to gain or loose weight.
Much of my work focuses on the gap between clothing and furniture and between skin and wall. I tailor chairs as my grandfather once tailored men’s clothing. To construct I Want to Become Architecture I sat like a model having his portrait made. I gave instructions to my assistant as he assembled flat, hard, trapezoidal and triangular plywood planes against my rounded and soft skin. These unresponsive bits of plywood formed around me until a protective pixilated shell enveloped my body. I Want to Become Architecture is a 52-year-old Allan Wexler specific chair.
Ellen and I were commissioned to make a sculpture for a new brick dormitory for Ohio University in 2006. Every building on campus is brick. Brick, a pixel scaled to the human hand, accretes and grows into buildings and cities. Brick is hardened clay. This region of Ohio has a lot of clay. Freshman would soon arrive at the dorm and make it home. We revisited our desire to morph into walls.
A sculptor molded a plaster cast of my body in the sitting position. I was not about to sit in the hot summer sun for two weeks as I previously did in the comfort of my New York City studio when my assistant built I Want to Become Architecture. The brick mason could use the plaster me as a three-dimensional template against which to mortar brick. The plaster sitting stand-in for me would not fit into our car so I cut my plaster self in half for the trip to Athens, Ohio.
Today students nestle within the wall inside the brick me. The important figure on campus is not an historical equestrian figure. The heroic figure is a portrait an absent artist. The heroic figure is a young student ready to conquer the world.