From Interview with Jessica Morgan, Chief Curator ICA Boston

1. Your work is characterized by the use of untreated wood. Why have you chosen to work predominantly with this material?

I use untreated wood for two reasons.

The first is to reveal clarity of construction. I'm interested in the viewer being able to see how a sculpture is built. For example, in the language of construction, a mitered corner (the joining of two boards cut to 45%) has an entirely different character than the meeting of end-cut to end-cut. The first creates an invisible seam, both boards pressing against each other equally. In the second example, one board always shows it's end grain; its interior is revealed. I think these subtleties of construction define different psychological characteristics within a structure.

The second reason is the pattern and color of untreated wood. I was a painter before I was a sculptor and see in each board of pine and sheet of plywood very specific two dimensional information -- grain, knots, color. I use the visual information to instruct my three dimensional decisions. For example, two planes meet to form a corner (this sounds like the beginning of a bad joke); one has a row of dark knots running vertically along its edge. If the knots are on the inside – where the two sheets of plywood join – one plane drops back and one comes forward. If I flip the sheet and place the row on the outside edge, the eye moves back and forth from corner to edge. I think visual and physical information activate different forms of perception, and in turn, different formal and narrative associations.

 

2. While your sculpture can be read as essentially abstract there are references to other types of built structures. Do you like to encourage a narrative reading of the work or do you prefer it to remain in the realm of abstraction?

I build sculpture that read abstractly and narratively because I experience object/form as both – I see shifting intervals of parallel lines and two rows of misaligned fencing. This simultaneous perception of abstraction and narration in form is how I experienced structure as a child (before I understood the role of function in the design of an object).

Furthermore, when I look at abstract art, I experience my projection of the act of making onto the art as a form of narrative. I see pure color as "place" (in time), and anthropomorphosize form. Inversely, when I'm looking at figurative art, I'm predominately aware of it's formal qualities – line, mass, surface, contrasting scale.

3. Do specific spaces or locations inform your work and do you plan to respond in some way to the gallery space for your exhibition at the ICA?

Location informs me, and I inform location. I build sculpture based on my formal and emotional experience of landscape and structure. These sculptures do not define one specific place but are meant to specify the space in which they’re located. I’m interested in visually conflating the viewer and architecture within the frame of the sculpture while the viewer continues to move in both physical and associative space. Both locations at the ICA – the lower gallery and the bottom of the stairwell – are low in the museum’s architectural hierarchy. The sculptures I build will definitely be informed by the contextual and emotional qualities of these spaces