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Place/Settings: Part 1

Journal

News from Dowd House Studios: places to find our pottery, exhibitions, classes & workshops, new forms and exciting projects.

Place/Settings: Part 1

Jenny Dowd

This past week I traveled to Concord, North Carolina to install my sculpture in the exhibition Place/Settings. Co-curators Connie Norman and Do Palma invited 12 Wyoming artists to explore the theme of place in our artwork. How do these settings or childhood memories shape our outlook or artistic spirit?

The show is hosted by The Cabarrus Arts Council and is on display at The Galleries, in the Historic Cabarrus County Courthouse from May 5 - July 7, 2017. The Artist Reception will be on June 9th. 

Cabarrus County Historic Courthouse, Concord, NC

Cabarrus County Historic Courthouse, Concord, NC

I am so excited to be included in this beautiful exhibition and honored to be in such good company. The exhibition includes artwork by: Wendy Bredehoft, Ashley Hope Carlisle, Leah Hardy, Bronwyn Minton, Susan Moldenhauer, Connie Norman, Do Palma, Dandee Pattee, Jennifer Rife, Georgia Rowswell and Sue Sommers.

Check back next week for details and images from the whole exhibition. Since there is so much to say about this show I've decided to split it into 2 posts.

My thoughts on Place/Settings led me to explore the dream-like moments that follow me wherever I am. Thinking back to childhood, I spent a lot of time reading and living in my imagination- and still do. Lately I have been trying to define these dreamy moments without pinning them down too much.

My travel schedule allowed 3 days to install my work, luckily everything arrived safely. (To see how I packed and shipped my pieces, check out this blog entry from April.)

Where the ground meets the sky

Experimenting is a large part of my process. Where the ground meets the sky only lived in my head before last week. I worked with porcelain, silk and vellum to create a subtle palette and relied on shadows to add depth and attract attention. The silk and vellum clouds hang from thread attached to entomology pins, creating a deliberately orchestrated scene. While I'm not sure if this is a real place or not, it is important that it seem hauntingly familiar. The clouds flutter as people walk by, attracting attention and sometimes creating a weather pattern- big gusts cause some serious tangling, which I hadn't expected but really like. (Although, now the piece needs to be de-tangled regularly!) 

Where the ground meets the sky is made of porcelain, wire, silk, vellum, silk thread and entomology pins. In this installation it is 7 feet wide.

Passages

Passages is a flexible sculpture that I have been working on since 2009. I had an idea of a piece that could change over time in response to display in a variety of spaces. With each installation I learn more about these pieces and try different solutions. This is the 5th installation of Passages, and it's first trip outside of Wyoming. (Last fall Passages was installed outside in the courtyard of Persephone Bakery in Jackson, WY, check out the blog post here.)

The installation process is both exciting and nerve-wracking. I enjoy working around different site obstacles and allow them to shape the course of the piece. For this installation I had limited time (which is a great way to make me focus and commit to decisions!)

This time there were lighting fixtures to work around and a plaster ceiling which made adding extra hooks difficult, plus I wanted to make sure I was not distracting from the other artist's work in the space. All of these "obstacles" are actually what makes installing this piece fun, I think of it as adding to a good conversation.

Even though Passages and Where the ground meets the sky are 3-dimensional, I also see them as drawings.

Heavy anchor wire attaches the boats and allows them to visually move through their environment. This wire makes a beautiful line and I feel that I am drawing in space. I compare the cluster of boats to leaves, a flock of birds or school of fish and the shadows expand the space they occupy. I also see these pieces as something familiar, though not quite recognizable, seen just out of periphery. 

In this installation, Passages, is made up of 120 (ish) welded steel boats dipped in Egyptian Paste.

On May 4th Curator Rebecca Collins held a gallery talk to discuss the artwork and show concept with the docents. On the left she is discussing Ashley Hope Carlisle's piece Carried Away. I spoke about my pieces and answered questions. I never think I want to talk about new artwork, especially when it is so fresh, but it is actually very insightful as it helps me put my ideas into words. 

I am grateful to the amazing staff at the Cabarrus Arts Council for all of their help and for allowing me such freedom to experiment!

To make the whole experience even better, my parents met up with me in NC and attended the gallery talk! Here they are trying to figure out what I did.

Check back next week for more images from the exhibition as well as photos of all the other artwork!