16 April 2021
In March 2020, the Covid pandemic caused many of us to isolate and stay home. For an artist, that can be a mixed blessing. Most artists would prefer to stay at home and in their studio creating work even though they also need that interaction from time to time with others and to visit galleries and museums.
The “Reified Reconstructions” are a result of that isolation. I was personally going through some transformations at the time. In late December 2019, after 32 years of teaching in California, I decided to retire at the end of the school year. Also, my mother passed away on 22 April 2020- Earth Day. I spent several months building a studio and reorganizing my life. My wife I would take adventures into the mountains when it was hot and to the deserts when it was cool. We would hike and “nature bathe.” During those trips, I would sketch ideas in watercolor. After our hikes, I would create these small wood “reconstructions” in the dining alcove when the backyard studio was under construction.
At the beginning of the shutdown, I found a box of wood scraps and pieces from a series of artworks that I created from 2010 to 2012 called the “Intermodulation Project.” Since I wanted to stay active actively creating during the pandemic and while the studio was being built, I developed a series of sculptures in wood and steel. They are a record of action and process. I looked at art that was created during the inter-war period in both Europe and the United States: the Bauhaus, de Stijl, Piet Mondrian, Burgoyne Diller, and the Russian Constructivists- particularly El Lissitzky’s “Proun Room.” I also looked at work by Lygia Pape, a Brazilian Neo-Concrete artist. Her installation, “Livro do Tempo (Book of Time),” I found to be a tour-de-force when I saw it at the Reina Sofia Museum in Madrid in 2011.
I call these sculptures “Reified Reconstructions” because they seem to reflect my current moment. To “reify” something is to take an abstract concept and make it concrete. I think that is what artists, especially abstract artists, do every day. The concept of “reconstruction” is three-fold. First, I am reconstructing new work and ideas from old parts and materials. Second, I am reconstructing my life as an artist. Third, I think our world, after the pandemic has been abated and political/social unrest is resolved, will have a great period of reconstruction. . . The aforementioned artists were creating during such a tumultuous period- two World Wars, an influenza pandemic, civil wars in Spain, China, and Russia, the rise of fascism and nazism and a global depression. They had hoped that art and technology would be the answer to big questions. Art and technology not only led to some terrible destruction but also saved us too. . . . Perhaps it is time for us to have a new renaissance with art and technology leading the way and given another chance.