Dedicated to covering the visual arts community in Connecticut.

Monday, October 01, 2007

Amazing yarns: mind fibers & Tin Men sci-fi

Kehler Liddell Gallery
873 Whalley Ave., New Haven, (203) 389-9555
Mind Fibers & Tin Men: Edith Borax Morrison & Gar Waterman

My schedule and the hours that the Kehler Liddell Gallery are open don't always mesh well. I was able to get over to the Mind Fibers & Tin Men show for the opening and again this past Saturday for about 15 minutes before they closed. At any rate, even though it's now closed, I just wanted to write a short post about it.

Edith Borax Morrison's "mind fibers" or "penweave" drawings, according to her artist statement, "grew out of my fascination with body coverings, masks and loom weaving." This show also included a "series of personal Mandalas, based on a mystical circle." They are works created, wrote Morrison, "with no sketch or preconceived idea."

In fact, they look like doodles raised to the level of fine art. All her drawings were incredibly detailed tangles of lines and forms, like balls of yarn, maybe, or more akin to tangles of fishing wire. But where tangled fishing wire is a product of accident and frustration, Morrison's "mind fibers" are deliberate and deliberative. They lure the viewer into them, stunned by the multi-layered intricacy.

Morrison even teases with some of them. "Unraveling" shows a tightly woven black and white ball unraveling into stray threads at the top. As its packed visual universe comes undone, it reveals that its intricate density ultimately consists of precisely nothing. Something to contemplate, for sure.

Gar Waterman is a sculptor with a gift for conjuring life out of cold, inanimate materials. There is one of his brilliant seed forms, carved out of marble, in the back half of Kehler Liddell. His Tin Men in this show are a blend of science fiction, found object sculpture and figurative work. I've seen some of Waterman's Tin Men displayed at various shows but this was the first time I'd seen so many gathered in one spot, almost a couple of dozen.

Perhaps one day, humans will truly merge with the machines we create. If this happens in the future, we'll likely have the airless presence of contemporary digital technology. But if it happened in the 1950's, the likely hybrid would have resembled the Tin Men. Crafted out of scrap—but generally clean and glistening—metal and machine parts, the Tin Men slave at industry, control giant enslaved insects and prepare for war. It wouldn't surprise me if many of these parts were castoffs of Connecticut's ubiquitous defense (war) industry. That could account, in part, for their martial bearing. What really stands out, though, is the liquid grace of the figures, the way Waterman takes the unyielding silvery metal parts and assembles them so as to breathe life into his creations. Breathtaking.

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