NEW GROWTH, 2007
New Growth is an inventory of architectural models that operates in the territory where architecture and biology might meet; an imagined city where old forms generate new forms through processes that suggest germination, budding, merging, hybridization, or absorption. This model city is a single organism conceived of as a functioning system of interdependent parts. It is also a grouping of autonomous structures that operate like competitive independent organisms in a loose highly provisional community. Some are connected by passageways that suggest either umbilical cords or parasitic invasions. Contiguous membranes create distinct regions in the city and the transparency of these membranes allow inner layer to be visible through outer shell. These porous membranes also operate as a continuous plane where exterior protective shell wall folds in to become interior vessel lining wall.
I have long been fascinated by the way in which architectural structures embrace, contain, shelter, frame, and even control the individuals who inhabit them, and explore this notion by building sculptures that for me operate both as scale models for imaginary buildings and as sites of enclosure with accessible spaces. My initial study in microbiology and my interest in the history of architecture results in works informed by both details of buildings from various historical periods and by biological morphologies. My aim is to build a sculpture that appears to have been built with a precise blueprint, while at the same time contradict this notion with some demonstration of that structure (or grouping of structures) as a dynamic system.
Though my sculptures reside in a place between object and architecture, most have human-scale chambers and all are constructed with a play between interior and exterior space. Some works are autonomous and singular, and these lone forms are typically designed with radial symmetry to suggest an enormous vessel or an isolated building. Here my design seems driven by a need for an almost classical sense of order and a ‘true center’ in the interior space of the form. However, in New Growth, as in most of my more recent works I build with heterogeneous parts in fields or in asymmetrical groupings, and this is for me resonant not only with the notion of biological growth, but also with the manner in which architectural structures form and re-form the fabric of cities over time. This new work reflects an expanded vocabulary of architectural sources and an interest in a shift towards greater complexity in the combination and collision of components in my design.
I am also interested in exploring the tension between what is revealed and what is concealed; how windows link interior space with exterior place to create shifting sightlines; how narrow entryways or low passages act in direct confrontation with the body; how space is compressed and movement directed; how one is at times hidden, and at times exposed. I like how in enclosed spaces there is a contradictory promise of protection and trap, but how open spaces can evoke a peculiar mix of euphoria and vulnerability.
New Growth is also a response to the particulars of Boise Art Museum site. On my first visit I visualized a kind of floating cityscape made up of forms that behaved at once as individual structures and as continuous membrane. The sculpture that I built ultimately resonated with many of the features of that beautifully open space in ways unforeseen. Curved roof tops in my architectural models seemed to echo the arched beams in the ceiling; the ever-changing light penetrating through the floor to ceiling windows created subtle shades of white and grey on the transparent layers of shadecloth; scale shifts occurred between the more ‘panoramic’ view from the gallery entrance and the experiencing of the sculpture from within the interior of a suspended form. Also at play for me was the surrounding landscape. I remained enchanted by the ever-present view of the distant mountain range and how the changing sky each day brought a new backdrop for the model city. Working in the space I was constantly aware of the conversation between the close and the distant and this seemed resonant with the dynamics of a sculpture that operated like a seamless cityscape from the curved step landing and then upon approach dissolved into infinite moments of looking at and looking through.
A kind of architectural model for an imagined city, New Growth may indeed evoke associations with specific architectural references. The inventory includes apartment highrises with interior atriums, a watchtower, a factory with an umbilical cord bridge attaching it to a coliseum, a multi-domed place for worship, and suggestions of power stations. Budding pod-like biomorphic shapes bulge out from, and at times even envelope these more familiar structures. Whether these are simply less differentiated embryonic forms of the same genotype, or new forms born of technical innovations I cannot say, but the inventory as ongoing, growing further with successive installations.