braided series

 

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  • braided series

    This series features braids of wool, grass, rubber, and other materials, created and/or presented as objects, actions or combinations of both as sculptures, wall pieces, or video installation.

    As physically simple, but symbolically layered sculptures, the braids exist in simple forms, in a variety of materials, lengths, thicknesses, and settings. These 'minimalist ancestors' may lie draped over a plinth, as central elements of wall sculpture, or physical evidence of symbolic live-art activity.

    The strands of these braids also become metaphor for a healthy way of life. In some traditional teachings, the three strands of the braid represent the balance between mind, body and spirit. This symbolism was originally applied to braids of hair or sweet grass. When applied to technically produced material, this metaphor encompasses issues of balance both on an individual and universal scale, especially in the use of technology and how it affects our environment and our health.

    In some wall pieces, braids cascade tail-like from acrylic on wood bases. These wall sculptures refine and redefine cultural symbols into abstract multi-media elements on 2d surfaces. They contain wry layerings, combining playful critique of racial stereotypes with references to western art history practices, and finally and centrally, cultural pride and affection.

    These pieces have been pared down to the most simple and yet important elements. They are monochrome in colour and either braids stand alone or interact with one other. The separation of the braid from its usual context creates playful contradictions, at once amplifying, questioning and celebrating its meaning and relevance as cultural signpost. At the same time, the stark and focused physical presentation, and the monochromatic format of each piece pay both admiring and irreverent homage to such western visual art movements as colour field painting, minimalism, and even Dada.

    The braided pieces can simply be read as refined objects in abstract aesthetic terms - or as a multi-faceted culturally, historically, and visually loaded events and/or artifacts. There is recognition in this work that the response will be subjective to such variables as the viewer’s education, cultural position, visual taste, and even intuition. In this way, although physically static, the braids are intended to be interactive rather than didactic.

    In the latest braided works, medicinal plants are ‘applied’ to surfaces and combined with braids made of technically produced materials. This repositioned use of plant medicines acknowledges the common traditional overlap of artist and the healer in ‘earth worshiping’ cultures, and the close association I find between my own personal impulse to create works of art and to work with these medicinal plants. They are and are not out of place in artwork. Although a fine-art ‘surface’ such as the wooden bases of the braids may not seem – or in a certain context, be – an appropriate place for the application of healing plants, in a more esoteric context, it is fitting. It mirrors the often odd, misplaced and or challenges position of the artist in contemporary western society.

    These ‘poulticed’ surfaces become beds for braids made from deconstructed technical material – often gathered as waste. Through this deconstruction process, these materials take on a more organic form, a return to source. The gesture becomes more layered as the material is braided and combined with the plant medicine. This juxtaposing has an aesthetic intention, and eventually the plant matter may affect the braided material’s chemical structure – a similar process to the that of healing.

    (see also ‘grass braid’ performance/installation in 'Indigenous Metropolis/Immigrant Wilderness’ series)

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