Generation: Installation at GV Art Gallery, London

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In this collaboration with film-maker Tereza Stehlikova, my sculptures merge with her video in an exploration of themes we found in the Greek myth of Demeter and Persephone. The installation fills the street level of the gallery, representing the earthly plane, and its lower level, representing the underworld. The exhibition reveals the fluid exchange between conscious awareness and unconscious forces, and the contradictions between possibilities and limits that lie at the heart of our embodied lives.

Stehlikova filmed four generations of women–her grandmother, mother, daughter and herself–in their country house in Bohemia, focusing her camera on the bonds and tensions between the generations. My sculptures, made of translucent, amber-colored rawhide, receive and transform the video projections. The projected light animates the sculptures, while their visceral physicality reveals a hidden dimension under the women’s seemingly composed surfaces.

The on-line catalogue may be viewed here: http://issuu.com/gvart/docs/gv_art_-_generation_catalogue/1?e=2372036/4871189

In the Greek myth, Persephone, daughter of Demeter, the Greek goddess of abundance and harvest, is abducted by Hades, god of the underworld. Grieving the loss of her daughter, Demeter creates a famine on earth. The gods pressure Hades to allow Persephone, now queen of the underworld, to return to her mother for part of each year.

 

Tereza Stehlikova is a filmmaker and artist based in London. She is engaged in an exploration of tactility and its relation to moving image, which formed the basis of her PhD research at the Royal College of Art. She is also a lecturer at the University of Westminster and the RCA, and a founder of Sensory Sites, an international art collective committed to making multisensory, collaborative artwork. www.terezast.com.

Stehlikova and I have been in conversation for several years, first collaborating in Just Under the Surface, an exhibition in the Crypt Gallery in 2011, where her video was projected into one of my sculptures, Rivers of Hades: Forgetfulness (Lethe). This sculpture-with-video was exhibited at Sensory Worlds, Inspace Gallery in Edinburgh, later in 2011. We will continue to collaborate, along with Anais Tondeur (another member of Sensory Sites) on a new installation in London in June, 2014, to coincide with a conference called by CenSes (Center for the Study of the Senses), with whom Sensory Sites is collaborating.

Reviews can be read at:
http://www.fadwebsite.com/2013/10/01/review-generation-gvart-a-collaborative-work-by-rosalyn-driscoll-and-tereza-stehlikova/
http://www.wildculture.com/article/generation/1285
http://www.trebuchet-magazine.com/generation-gv-art/

 

 

 

By the Light of the Body

Breathing Ground detail

Big Red & Shiny, the Boston online publication about contemporary art and culture, commissioned and published an article I wrote about the twenty-plus years I’ve been researching touch, the body and the senses through my sculptural work and audience response. The link to the whole article:

http://www.bigredandshiny.com/cgi-bin/BRS.cgi?section=article&issue=145&article=2013-04-09-173510567871286779&printView=true

And to give you a taste of the content, here’s an excerpt from the first page:

“A hidden factor is present when an artist makes a work of art. That same factor is present when a person looks at art. This factor is plainly visible and easily palpable, but remains largely unconscious and unacknowledged, and that is the body—the artist’s body, my body, your body, our bodies.

I arrived at that observation after many years of working as an artist in two dimensions—first painting and then hand paper-making. Then in 1991, I made an artist’s book. This new form expanded my work into the third dimension, and at the same time into the tactile dimension. I was struck by the way a book has to be opened and handled to be known. So I made two book-like sculptures that could be turned over or opened, inviting people to engage the artwork with their hands.

At the same time I became interested in the experience of blindness. An artist friend gave a talk about her work, and afterward a man who was visually impaired said he wished she had described the images she had shown. I was amazed that someone who could not see would even be interested in art, and began wondering how people with little or no sight might experience works of art, which are considered the exclusive province of visual perception. Thinking about my book-sculptures, which could be handled and touched, I began to wonder if touch could convey the meaning of an artwork. Could touching be a way of knowing? That question, and the questions that followed, have informed my work ever since.”

 

The Wilds of the Body and the Earth: Esalen Institute Symposium

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I participated in a symposium at the end of June at Esalen Institute in Big Sur, California, which was called together by Don Johnson, an old friend who teaches somatics at California Institute for Integral Studies in San Francisco. Somatics practitioners, permaculturists and eco-activists investigated “the feeling many of us have that bodily experience, cultivated deeply and inquired into, is an important doorway to overcoming the alienation of humans from other beings, and from each other.”

My contribution to the conversation was a video-sculpture which explores the intimate entwinement of body and nature. Poetics of Skin 2 is a collaboration with multimedia artist Sarah Bliss (http://www.sarahblissart.com). Bliss’ video is projected into a shell-like sculpture made of translucent, amber-colored rawhide. The haunting images of a man and a woman moving together, as seen through skeins of rawhide, seem trapped in the small space of the sculpture, as if inside a body, an animal, or under the sea.The original Poetics of Skin can be seen documented at: https://vimeo.com/rosalyndriscoll).

 

 

 

Nave in Convergence: Boston Sculptors on Christian Science Plaza, Boston

“What a great idea for an outdoor sculpture – giving it a hidden interior! This points to why I am usually indifferent to outdoor works – nothing private about them. These have a secret.”

“….the decadent mystery of the interior calling us to a truth so different from the stark sparseness of the surround.”

“…the raw-hide gives something like strength and softness together inside the monumental twins.”

The following photographs were taken by Nancy Milliken, whose sculpture, Lighthouse,
is across the Plaza from Nave.

 

 

Construction of Nave

Now that my new sculpture, Nave, is installed on the Christian Science Plaza in Boston, where it can be seen for the next six months, I want to acknowledge all the craftspeople and businesses who contributed to the fabrication and installation of the project, listed here more or less in chronological order.

Christopher Lenaerts of Lenaerts Fine Woodworking served as Project Manager, working with me from conception to installation in all phases of design, model-building, construction, problem-solving, and finding resources and materials. He assumed responsibility for the construction, schedule, logistics, subcontractors, and engineering details, as well as for the craftsmanship and aesthetics of the finished product.

Glenn Leonard of Leonard’s Fine Woodworks in Southampton MA worked with Christopher in the construction and installation. Mike Chermesino of Worthington, MA came on for the last month of fabrication, along with Dave Grace of Ashfield, MA.

Tris Metcalfe of Metcalfe Associates consulted with us on the design, construction methods and engineering specifications for the project. In the early stages of conception advice was offered by Todd Lynch of Ecotropy and landscape architect Jon Henson.

Bill Kelly of Kelly’s Meadow Wood in Goshen, MA, offered technical advice for the fabrication of the infrastructure and milled the wood for it with Christopher.

Lyman Sheet Metal in Southampton, MA fabricated the aluminum panels and numerous smaller parts such as chain plates and roof pans. Kevin West managed the project, and Glenn, Keith and Tommy did the cutting, welding and buffing of the panels.

Santini Brothers Iron Works in Medford, MA fabricated and delivered the two steel bases for the sculptures.

Mark Stein of LandMark Company, Hatfield, MA applied finish to the aluminum panels, and researched, ordered and mixed the materials for the surfaces of the sculpture.

Jerry Sawma and Scott Wallace of Bear River Timber Frame, Conway, MA conducted tests and applied the polymer-gypsum material to the surfaces of the sculpture.

John Symanski of Symanski Materials Handling in Easthampton, MA offered logistical, rigging advice and transported the sculpture from the studio to the Plaza in Boston.

 

 

 

New sculpture for the Christian Science Plaza under construction

Construction has been underway for several months on my new monumental sculpture, Nave. This site-responsive piece will be part of Convergence, an exhibition of public sculptures co-sponsored by Boston Sculptors Gallery and The First Church of Christ, Scientist. The exhibition will be on view on the Christian Science Plaza in Boston Wednesday, May 1 to Thursday, October 31, 2013. For information about the other sculptures, the opening reception, the catalogue launch, and a series of talks and programs, go to the exhibition website: http://convergenceexhibit.blogspot.com/.

An older sculpture, Canyon, served as a model for my new piece. Canyon is only 15 inches tall, but I wanted the new piece tall enough so that a person standing in the space between the two structures would feel they were inside the sculpture; it was designed as 8 feet tall, 5 feet wide and 2 feet deep. The challenge was to scale up the structures and build for an outdoor, public venue.

Here on the Plaza, Project Manager Christopher Lenaerts, of Lenaerts Fine Woodworking,  and Glenn Leonard, are scribing the bases for the two parts of the sculpture to stand level on the slightly sloping Plaza surface. The sculpture is aligned with the east-west arc of the sun to allow maximum light into the interiors and to align with the orientation of the Church of Christ, Scientist.

Back in the studio, the wooden infrastructure of the two pieces is being built according to plans drawn up by Lenaerts and Tris Metcalfe, principal of Metcalfe Associates, an architecture firm in Northampton, to withstand high winds and weather.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Mike Chermesino and Dave Grace lift one of the frameworks to standing for the first time. Below, the two structures face each other as they will on the Plaza, where they will stand six feet apart.

Above, Chermesino and Lenaerts fit the aluminum panels. Below, Chermesino and Leonard work on the final stages of construction.

The simple geometry and concrete-like surfaces of the two structures reflect the architecture of the Plaza. We applied a mixture of gypsum and polymer to the outer surfaces to simulate concrete and made it black to enhance the monolithic quality. Mark Stein of the LandMark Company, conducted experiments to determine the final blend of the cover material, and then measured out each ingredient. Expert plasterers Jerry Sawma and Scott Wallace of Bear River Timber Frames applied the difficult material over the course of two intense days.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Molt

 

Molt, 2012, Wood, rawhide, rawhide  144” x 18” x 25”

This new sculpture was recently exhibited at Boston Sculptors Gallery as part of Height, Width, Depth, Time: Boston Sculptors Celebrates 20 Years, and will be shown again at Wistariahurst Museum in Holyoke as part of REACH this April.

It was made after decades of looking at paintings and drawings of the Descent from the Cross. This Christian iconography of people lowering Christ’s body from the cross, where he had been crucified, provided artists from the 10th century onward with the potential for dynamic, dramatic configurations of cross, ladders, bodies, and emotions.

The most affecting for me is the version by Rosso Fiorentino, which I saw during a college seminar in Florence; we made a pilgrimage to the hilltown of Volterra to see the large painting where it stood alone in a high room. Its jagged forms, hallucinatory colors and lightning-struck grief left a deep impression on me.

The other imagery that fed into this piece was the memory of waking up in the Grand Canyon one morning to discover that during the night hundreds of cicada nymphs had emerged from the sand, climbed up dried plant stalks and molted, leaving tiny empty shells still clinging to each stalk.

Height, Width, Depth, Time: Boston Sculptors Celebrates 20 Years

As a member of Boston Sculptors Gallery, I participated in the recent exhibition of all thirty-six current members and fourteen alumni, which showcased the diversity and brilliance of Boston Sculptors Gallery in a celebration of twenty years as a venue for contemporary sculpture.

My contribution to the exhibition, Molt, made in 2012 of wood and rawhide, 144” x 18” x 25,” was inspired by Renaissance and Baroque paintings of the Descent from the Cross.

 

“Poetics of Skin” Video

Sarah Bliss, a multi-media artist living in the Pioneer Valley (www.sarahblissart.com) is working with me in an ongoing collaboration, for which we have just been awarded the Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship. We are experimenting with her video, Before the Drop, projected onto my rawhide sculptures in various configurations. In Bliss’ words, we are “…deconstructing the boundaries between one form of matter and another, and forefronting the truth of the seamlessness between all material realities.”  Documentation of our exploration can be seen at: https://vimeo.com/rosalyndriscoll. Stills from our work are shown here and in the portfolio section of this website.