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Sculpture Month Houston: From Space to Field

October 15th -November 19th, 2016

Participating Artists at SITE Gallery:

Adela Andea Ben Woitena Chris Sauter David Medina Dylan Conner Ed Wilson Jay Shinn Jeff Forster Jessica Kreutter JoAnn Fleischhauer Joanne Brigham Joe Mancuso Jonathan Leach Kyle Olson Mari Omori Mat Kubo Michael Kennaugh Paul KittelsonSharon Kopriva Troy Stanley Wei Hong

 

From Space To Field

Sculpture Month Houston is a project that celebrates three-dimensional artwork throughout the city of Houston. It is the first major, citywide project to spotlight this highly variable medium since the “Sculpture 2000” convention. SMH will offer a look at developments in the sculptural practice in the intervening sixteen years, as well incorporate the large influx of younger and more diverse artists. As a survey, the works define the evolution of sculpture within a larger contemporary art context, while providing a Houston-centric view of this process.

The opposite poles of three dimensional art making are the free-standing sculpture – a portable object that is volumetrically defined, and the exploration of space in order to broaden the sensory experience – in contemporary art-speak known as the “art installation”. This divide reaches into the misty distances of history, as far back as 35,000 years ago with the creation of the carved sculpture known as Lionman. A separate conception of three-dimensional space can be evinced at the famous caves of Lascaux, in which intricate paintings cover the walls of the cave, incorporating the irregular and undulating rock formations, creating the first site specific works of art. These contrasting conceptions of three dimensional art making delineate the boundaries of the sculptural medium even today.

The classical idea of sculpture, a static object as exemplified by Rodin’s monumental pieces was eroded in the early twentieth century by the likes of Duchamp and Schwitters. In the 1960s and 70s a virtual explosion of art movements took place that redefined sculpture in novel and expansive ways. Land Art, Installation Art, Assemblage, and Fluxus, are but a few of the various movements that have revolutionized the sculptural medium. Each has introduced a broad range of new elements, such as everyday and natural materials, found objects, architectural fragments or new media such as sound, performance, video or environmental activism.

The subtitle for Sculpture Month Houston is From Space To Field – a reference to the fluidity of spatial concepts in contemporary sculpture. “Fields” in physics are somewhat fuzzy entities. They are nevertheless mathematically quantifiable – occupying space and containing energy. The quantum field operates by wave

propagation creating particles and therefore objects including sculptures. The fact that fields were first and were integral in “creating” the art object makes an elegant case to consider “sculpture as spatial concept” a unifying paradigm for this exhibition.

From Space To Field will build upon the active dialogue between architecture and the sculptural medium. This is a dynamic which has recently intensified due to the inclusion of architectural elements in many installation works and the activation of a distinct architectural space in site specific work. The British artist Rachel Whiteread, for instance, engages architectural space by making casts of the negative spaces of architecture. One of her most renown work is “House”, a concrete cast of the inside of a Victorian house, translating interior space into solid form.

A case in point are the “Silos” at Sawyer Yard. Recently converted to individual art exhibition spaces, they are the polar opposite of the ennui of the “White Boxes” of most museums or galleries. Built in 1959 and taken out of commission sometimes in the 90s they stored the crop of Texas rice farmers for further distribution. The “Silos” consist of a total of thirty-four individual, eighty-three foot tall towers, whose end terminals were converted into art spaces. Most of the walls of these spaces retain their raw industrial patina, graffiti, scratches and all, pointing to a history of toil and labor.

The dimension of these spaces are impressive : eleven to fifteen feet in diameter, between eleven and eighteen feet in height. Each artist was assigned one of the spaces, his or her own personal “cave”, in which to create and showcase art. In this intimate environment, unencumbered by outside interference, a total of twenty- three artists were selected to participate and share their artistic vision. The majority of the artists in this group are from Houston; however, some artists from neighboring areas have been invited to participate.

This event at the “Silos” is the core exhibition of Sculpture Month Houston and it is emblematic of the journey of the sculptural medium in Houston for the past decade and a half. It is a journey that echoes contemporary art’s past half-century, a “dematerialization” of the object, as Lucy Lippard once wrote, allowing for the creation of spatial fields that directly engage the viewer and resonate at multiple sensory levels. The “Silos” provide a unique opportunity to follow the local sculptural community’s trajectory along this path – one that capitalizes on sculpture’s universality while providing a frame of reference that is undoubtedly Houstonian.

October 2016 Volker Eisele