Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Exhibition Essay

Consistency and Change

When we encounter a solitary work from an artist and are moved, engaged, provoked – struck by it, it is of course by what we see or experience directly. But, its power to touch us springs largely from what we don’t see, the depth that lies behind the work, the experience that went into it – that thing that we see is only the tip of the iceberg.

Every work is an accumulation of experience, resting squarely on the shoulders of the journey of creation that the maker has traveled. It’s a journey of twists and turns, jagged edges and smooth expanses, forking paths that split apart and long and winding roads that return together – a river flowing to the sea, lightning arcing from sky to earth.

From the perspective of the present looking past, this course of development, this evolution of idea and approach, is one of consistent patterns punctuated with dramatic changes. These pathways traveled are shaped by new ventures attempted – some continued while others abandoned, and some threads once left behind picked up all over again. What seems disparate and disconnected one day may play a significant and essential role another, as these strands are woven together on the artist’s loom.

The journey is not some tightly laid-out design, some perfectly ordered crystal, nor is it random and chaotic. Rather it’s a delicate balance between planning and circumstance. Each decision necessarily eliminates potential pathways, yet in doing so brings forth into existence new possibilities branching ever outward.

Bearing witness to the journey not only sheds light on that single piece, allowing for deeper understanding of the work, but what a fascinating, rich work that journey is in and of itself! It’s a living, breathing construction of mixed and time-based media. In “Pathways,” as we look at those who’ve journeyed some distance, know too, that these are not end points. They’re more akin to marks on a closet door recording a child’s changing height. Some time hence, these serve as reminders of where we’ve been and how much we’ve grown along the way. What unfolds for these individuals on this continuing journey – a dance between intent and accident – is and will be something to behold.

Nick Sousanis
Director of Exhibitions, Work : Detroit

Detroit, Michigan
February 9, 2008

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