A wall of 17 industrial fans blow on the mound of sand in the middle of the Blackwood Gallery. Robert Wysocki’s installation “traction” uses 30,000 pounds of Bunker “S” sand.
In a video by Mike Dopsa, Wysocki explains how he has always admired landscapes for the way they document the earth. “I couldn’t paint to save my life,” he says, “so I content myself with creating the landscape.”
The pen moves across the earth exhibit, curated by Christine Shaw, explores how human beings influence the planet’s biological, geological, and atmospheric processes. The viewbook for the exhibit states: “Combining raw materials and high-tech elements, each work in the exhibition makes visible the forces of composition and decomposition that are rumbling just below or flowing across the surface of the earth. Matter and matters intertwine.” This curatorial statement has a point. Everything an artist uses in the creation of their work comes from the earth. It may be processed or altered by people, but its origin is the planet we live on. It is appropriate, therefore, that art made with natural materials should also be about those materials.
Tim Knowles’ Ink on Paper Landscape hangs in the corner behind the sand pile. Rivers of ink run on three differently folded and crumpled sheets of paper of various dimensions.
Knowles said his pieces were a bridge between the works he had done on paper and the interactive pieces. He described a drawing that was made by people walking—he had 20 people move as if they were water running off the land.
Knowles said the piece is about mapping a landscape. It inspired him to make the paper and ink works. He drops the ink on the folded sheets of paper and then lets the ink collect and run on its own across the sheet’s folds.
Kara Uzelman’s Magnetic Stalactites hang from the gallery’s ceiling. For the exhibition, Blackwood removed several panels from the ceiling and attached Uzelman’s assemblages to the metal pipes. Magnets hold together an assortment of metal objects that include cabinets, buckets, pots, cheese graters, scissors, and spoons. The gallery’s student staff scavenged the objects from abandoned alleyways and thrift stores.
Uzelman said she first got the idea for the Cavorist projects while she was doing a residency at the Klondike Institute of Art in Dawson City. She’d been inspired by the character of Joseph Cavor in H. G. Wells’s 1901 novel The First Men on the Moon, in which the main character develops an antigravitational material he names “cavorite”.
“I was also really interested in the Gold Rush, which was going on at the same time as the H. G. Wells novel,” Uzelman said. “All of these people were taken with the gold fever and made this long trek. Many of them died, but they had this faith. It was a very capitalist-driven thing of getting rich quick.”
Uzelman said she was interested in that same faith driving a search for an element that wasn’t driven by capitalist motivations. She came up with her own spin on Well’s novel and developed a project that documented the lives of the cavorists, people who searched for the antigravitational element.
“[The cavorists] were on the verge of scientists, almost pseudoscientists, so there’s the idea of science versus spirituality and a real interest and respect for nature,” she said.
Another of Uzelman’s stalactites drops from the e|gallery ceiling in CCT. Black cloth hangs in front of the e|gallery’s doors. Inside, Pascal Grandmaison’s video projection La main de rêve plays across the wall.
The pen moves across the earth exhibition runs at the Blackwood Gallery and the e|gallery until November 29.
This article has been corrected from the print edition. Several errors were made concerning Wysocki’s installation. The correct name of the installation is “traction” and it uses 30,000 pounds of Bunker “S” sand. A notice will be printed in the October 5, 2015 issue.