With their incongruous forms, unnerving color schemes and various other unsettling elements, Vincent Fecteau’s meticulously made sculptures belie the many formal decisions made by the artist in completing each work.
He has said of his working process, “I like to work on a group of pieces all at the same time, spending long periods just staring at things and trying to activate or access a feeling that somehow relates to what I’m trying to make. …When I’m open to things but not fixed on an objective is when I’m most likely to discover a connection that helps a piece feel more resolved.”
On Wednesday, I took my first class in MIG Welding at the RDU Tech Shop in Durham. MIG welding is a type of welding that uses an electric current and shielding gas to create strong bonds in mild steel. It’s an easy, versatile method that can be used in making furniture, sculpture, or almost anything else you can imagine. I’m excited to use my new skills in the shop.
But the Tech Shop offers a lot more than just metal working; if you’ve ever wanted to learn how to sew, make a birdhouse, or cut 3″ thick steel with a plasma CNC machine, this is your place. The Tech Shop has a wood-working shop, metal shop, computer-controlled milling machines, laser cutters, sewing machines, lathes, and more. They also offer a wide selection of classes to get you up-to-speed on most of the equipment — and everyone is welcome, no matter your skill level.
If you have a do-it-yourself project you’ve been meaning to do, chances are the Tech Shop can help. Happy welding!
John Chamberlin (1927-2011) is a great example of an artist who made a career out of exploring one material. For him, that material was crushed car parts.
His sculptures are surprisingly delicate & elegant considering their source. I am always amazed at how Chamberlain was always able to find new colors, shapes, and configurations to explore.
Some belive Chamerlian’s use of metal is akin to translating Abstract Expressionist brushstrokes into three dimensions. Others simply see beautiful compositions. Whatever the source, these are some of my favorite sculptures to look at. I hope you enjoy them too.
Louise Nevelson is one of my favorite artists. A master of found object sculpture, she was known for her room-sized wall pieces made of wood & painted in monotone. Almost all her work is flat black, but she also created work in gold, white, and green.
By working in monotone, Nevelson was able to emphasize the formal qualities of her objects, elevating scraps of wood to beautiful compositions. She was a master at joining together disparate forms to create a sense of balance and mystery.
Many people acknowledge a connection between Nevelson’s work and the Abstract Expressionist movement of the 1940s-1950s. This movement emphasized grand themes like masculinity, the subconcious, and the sublime, and included painters like Jackson Pollack and Franz Kline.
In addition to working in wood, Nevelson also created a large number of outdoor steel sculptures. These works maintain the vitality of her more intimate works, but on a grand scale. They can be seen in many public places across the country, inluding a plaza named after her in New York’s financial district.
Louise Nevelson’s unique style continues to influence artists and designers up to the present day. Take a closer look and see what you discover.
It doesn’t matter what art looks like, but how it’s used.
Franz West is an Austrian artist whose work began as a reaction to the Action and Performance Art of the 1960s. Instead of making objects to be viewed, he created sculptures to be touched. His “adaptives” were sculptures meant to carried around the gallery, so that viewers could observe how they “adapted” to their bodies.
More recently, West began creating “adaptives” of a different sort – this time they took the form of furniture. In his chairs, couches, and light fixtures, West blurs the line between furniture and art. I like how his efforts pay off – art objects become familiar to the viewer on a more personal level, though they always maintain the presence of a sculpture. One of my favorite pieces is his floor lamp (below) made of rebar topped by a bare lightbulb.
West’s furniture, like his sculptures, have an awkward and sometimes grotesque appearance. But at the same time, they are surprisingly elegant and beautiful. Take a look. See how they change the way you look at furniture.
Isa Genzken is a German artist who combines the bric-a-brac of everyday life to create unusual sculptures that shock and amaze. Sometimes her work looks more like a pile of garbage than a sculpture. But take a closer look, and you’ll see poetic arrangements of color and texture balancing in space. Her work has been aptly described as “contemporary ruins.” Take a closer look:
Genzken’s work seems to warn us against taking ourselves too seriously, combining carefully-composed arrangements with a playful sense of humor. Through this process, she creates inventive works that never cease to surprise me, and that’s why she’s one of my favorite artists.
The North Carolina Museum of Art is a fantastic museum. I’ve already written about the new wing and what a perfect place it is for art. But through September, you’ll find some of the best surprises in the old wing, as part of the show 30 Americans. The 75 works in this show were pulled from the Rubell Family Collection in Miami, and represent a sampling of some of the best American Art from the past 4 decades. All of the artists in the show are African American, and their work often addresses issues of identity and race. There are so many beautiful and interesting pieces, that it’s hard to choose favorites – but I’ll try: Highlights for me included the following works by Wangechi Mutu, Kerry James Marshall, Shinique Smith, and Jean-Michel Basquiat.
(above: Wangechi Mutu, Non Je Ne Regrette Rien)
(above: Kerry James Marshall, Souvenir: Composition in Three Parts)
(above: Shinique Smith, A Bull, A Rose, A Tempest)
(above: Jean Michel-Basquiat, Untitled Self Portrait)
I hope you’ll head to the NCMA to see this show – it’s definitely worth the trip. 30 Americans runs through September 4th – more info at http://www.ncartmuseum.org/