Wednesday, November 02, 2005

Perri Lynch's FloatingDatum:FixedGrid

The beach plateau forms an arc to the west of the EPA site, a gravelly open space between trees and sea. The vortex sits farthest back from the beach and catches the wind when it blows to the West from the mouth of Eagle Harbor. Birds also nest in the gravel, and I have found a bare egg resting in a tuft of grass here.

Perri Lynch gravitated toward this site immediately, and her proposal for work reflected this connection. A grid of poles would be installed between land and water, fitted with wind indicators at the tops. As she envisioned it, "The wind indicators will pattern the directional flow and velocity of air currents. In very high winds, the piece will emit a low humming sound. The grid structure references the human compulsion to map and monitor while the sensors remind us to look and feel. This installation will create an interstitial relationship between the natural rhythms of Pritchard Park and mankind’s systematic tendencies towards land use. As a reclaimed Superfund area, I can’t imagine a more poignant place for this work."

This piece was unique to the site in its scale, its complexity of installation, and the life it took on in the larger context of the site. It was visible from a distance across the water from the ferry, from many angles of pedestrian approach, and was a piece to maneuver around and through. One of my favorite views was from the adjacent beach. From this slightly lower angle, you saw the poles rise out of the haze of blackberries and brush, capped with the flowing field of flags.

FloatingDatum:FixedGrid plays out the tension of the place on multiple levels, that theme that I found sustained throughout the vast variety of work in this show. We see deliberate human handiwork interface with the will of the wind, the imposition of industrial materials and processes on a fragile and resilient site, the calm poetry of the poles and flags as the work pins down its corner of earth. This work generates commentary and silence.

Perri's own words about her piece: "My work investigates the relationship between human perception and sense of place. Navigation, intuition, and physical proximity are key components of these investigations. I am drawn to landmarks such as billboards, survey stations, and cairns that influence our sense of direction and lead us onward. Sense of place does not exist outside of ourselves. It shifts relative to our bodies, our memories, and what we choose to pay attention to. I hope to draw attention to details in our surroundings that are often overlooked or unheard. With more sensitivity towards our environments, we all may derive a deeper sense of place.

FloatingDatum:FixedGrid examines ways in which our Cartesian sensibilities superimpose order on the world and nature’s assertion in response. The grid references mankind’s compulsion to map and monitor. Wind sensors remind us to look and feel. A regimented, axial construct is staged in forced harmony with the natural rhythms of Pritchard Park."

Amanda Sturgeon's Rock Wall

The Pritchard Park site has many physical attributes that make it a phenomenal and unique place on Bainbridge Island. The hillside woven with trails and foliage wraps the upper edge of a stretch of beachy waterfront rarely found in the Puget Sound. Interestingly, the terrain is partially imported, a result of the capping of the former creosote facility. And at the present, both coexist in a primary way: the sandy shoreline is flanked by a chain link fence wound with razor wire to enclose the EPA monitoring site.

It is this edge and demarcation that Amanda Sturgeon explores with her artwork. That she is an architect passionate about sustainability and living lightly on the earth is pertinent here: her rock wall comes out of and returns to the earth. We see emergence and disappearance, light and shadow, retention and fluidity. The rocks in the piece were gathered from the surrounding site and captured within a wireframe cage, situated parallel to the chain link fence. Two walls, two forms.

Hers is a quiet piece on the first reading: a sinuous gesture of an earthworked line. But there is also subtext: the gradated color of the rock wall from the dark base to the light top suggest earth's strata on one hand, and the process of interring the creosote pollution that has laid beneath this site on another. And the question of the wall's strength provokes as well, for it is clearly an inviting human-scale piece for sitting, but over time the wall sagged and morphed under its own weight.

Amanda writes: "I have created a natural stone wall adjacent to the chain link fence of the EPA site to juxtapose against the man-made steel wall that contains the creosote pollution. Formed within a chicken wire framework, the wall is undulating and contained at the same time.

The wall will symbolize the future of the park, curving, undulating and embracing as it emerges from the now clean ground. The wall expresses the natural beauty of the site and invites interaction by providing a suggestion of protection and shelter. It’s presence alongside the steel wall and barbed wire fence will offer contemplation of the site’s polluted history."

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Polly Purvis' Ruins & Light

When I first saw Polly's work, I was struck by the fluidity with which she moves between media. She works primarily in photography and sculptural metalwork, bridging both with compelling imagery of figures and gestures.

At the point when she chose the derelict shed site for her installation, I saw how this interest in portraying human evidence dovetailed with her affinity for the aesthetic of archaeology. The work takes place at a portion of the park at which people worked and lived. A metal clad shed has collapsed in upon itself and creates a shallow basin flanked by wooden structures that suggest a clothesline could have stood to one side. Walking the trail a bit further, the other side of the clothesline stands above a neat pile of composite roofing shingle scraps.

With Polly's installation, the outlines of the space and its contours are revealed through careful cleaning and deliberate mark-making. The bones of the building surface with her removal of composted leaves and trash. Neon green, yellow and pink colored translucent plexiglas rods sprout from the ruined shed, drawing in the ambient light and luring our viewing eye along the walk toward the roofing shingles. Portions of the siding have been reconfigured into a graceful female form at one corner of the site. Pink plexiglas sheet and rod accent existing architectural details: a series of rungs, the triangular span of the clothesline support. And in the pile of roofing material we are given a glimpse into the possibility of the former inhabitants: photographs of dancing ghosts are tucked shyly into the mound. Shadows of human interaction with place abound in this work.

Polly's statement reads: "My sculptural constructions are inspired by human metaphor and my ongoing engagement with shadow and light. Themes of culture and history, ecology and memory are present in my work, as is a strong connection to landscape and the human figure.

Combining fabricated and natural materials with my photographs is at the core of my constructions. The transformation resulting from this interplay of silver emulsion and chemistry of photography, with metal and translucent materials is magical alchemy. My goal is to convey the spirit and essence of my subjects. They become after all, a celebration of the creative act.

Two sculptures rise out of the worker cottage ruins on the Park’s upper trail; both works incorporate artifacts found at the site with contemporary, ‘manufactured’ materials, drawing attention to the contrast of natural and fabricated, past and present."