"They're My Friends... I Made Them"
Dorothy Goode -- Artist Statement
A material choice is neither arbitrary nor essential. The skeletal system of these sculptures is taken from wood used to keep roughly 100 paintings in formation during my last show. The cleats were designed and executed by my friend Jon Erikson, out of simple plywood. When the show was dismantled, the wood was returned to me, carefully wrapped, with each board labeled and numbered. I did not mean to use the wood again as a structural device, but the care taken by the two people who had handled it (my friend and the man who installed the Sharpie Looks for God show) made it strangely impossible to throw out. It sat in the corner of my studio, various board lengths bundled in plastic, full of screw holes, and with my name printed on each, until just the sight of it filled me with the desire to cut and clamp.
I have not been accustomed to working in three dimensions. And it became quickly clear to me that decisions made in the round are qualitatively different than those with only a flat surface to contend with. Clamping is satisfying in its own right. Creating a tight seal between two discrete objects using basic tools has a challenge that is physical, geometrical, and psychological. I kept my methods simple. And I would continue to build upon an object until it took on a recognizable character in my mind.
Finishing was more difficult. Each piece was slathered in handmade gesso (as a painter I found this irresistible), which I, afterwards, hated the look of, and my mind began to rebel against the strong impulse to revert and treat the objects like complicated painting surfaces. I wanted the look of the finished work to reflect each necessary structural decision, along with each experiment or mistake. Whatever had happened to the object should leave its imprint. I found that muriatic acid chemically reacts with the calcium carbonate in my gesso, which was a fantastic freak of chance. Pieces were soon smashed apart and reassembled after some decoration or other interfered with what best identified them as characters. I used every last scrap of wood from the bundles. They became very much like little friends.
The pedestals ground the creatures atop them in more than one way. And they make of my otherwise shadowy friend -- who designed the support structure that I hacked into pieces in order to build the sculptures -- more of a collaborator than a skilled laborer just doing me a favor. Jon and I have a lot in common, and we did our basic training (I in commercial art and he in architecture) at around the same time. During the late 80’s and early 90’s a shift was occurring. Physical processes, as necessary aspects of professional activities, were gradually being replaced by digital. I learned everything from hand-lettering to paste-up in college. Jon learned how to draft by hand. Each of us loved having these kinds of skills, and when we found that they were not pressingly needed in the immediate workforce, we found other ways to use, privilege, and prioritize them. Jon is a maverick designer and builder. He answers to few and can do almost anything with his hands and tools. When I learned that I needed to build my own pedestals in order to exhibit my pieces I immediately contacted him. He walked into my studio, measured heights according to the position of the pocket on his jeans, sketched out some notes while I held sculptures at various levels, and then we drank a lot of beer.
A week later I was in possession of 7 beautiful birch plywood boxes. The boxes had originally been meant for distressing – somewhat in the spirit of the animals they were built to hold aloft – but I could not release the idea (once it occurred) that the boxes were already perfect. And not only because they look ahead (they will provide the raw material for my next group of objects) but because they look behind, to the investment, shared by Jon and myself, in a way of thinking and existing that is lodged firmly in the mercurial, uncontainable physical world. The boxes are nice, regularly shaped bridges, not meant to fade invisibly into the background. They shall serve their purpose here, and then serve another next. Each aspect of each process has its own time. And place.
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