Dirty White Trash (With Gulls)

Sue Webster, Tim Noble Dirty White Trash (With Gulls) 1998
Sue Webster, Tim Noble
Dirty White Trash (With Gulls) 1998
Sue Webster, Tim Noble YOUNGMAN, 2012
Sue Webster, Tim Noble
YOUNGMAN, 2012

Sculptures made with found objects can often be encountered in art museums around the world. There’s something really satisfying about literally turning people’s trash into art. Sue Webster and Tim Noble, however, have taken a different spin on found-object sculptures. While their sculptures—made from trash, dead animals, and discarded wood—are beautiful and interesting, what’s particularly cool about these sculptures are the shadows they cast on the wall behind them. These shadows are created using a spotlight that is carefully pointed so that it creates a precise shadow. Webster and Noble place every piece of debris deliberately and precisely, considering its distance from the wall, and its angle with the spotlight.  Not only do these shadow sculptures “redefines how abstract forms can transform into figurative ones,” but they also seem to challenge the centrality of material goods in our world. By creating the shadow of human forms out of the very things that humans discard on a daily basis, Webster and Noble seem to suggest that, for lack of a better phrase, we are what we throw away.

Tree Fall

Tree Fall, Andy Goldsworthy Presido National Park, San Francisco, CA
Tree Fall, Andy Goldsworthy
Presido National Park, San Francisco, CA

Andy Goldsworthy, a British artist who uses nature to create his art, unveiled his newest installation on Oct 19 in the Presido National Park in San Francisco, CA. This piece, just like Goldsworthy’s other work, uses only objects and materials found in nature–in this case a felled tree, and clay derived from the surrounding land. Goldsworthy’s work asks us to take a closer look at nature, and the natural beauty that surrounds us. In an article for the Smithsonian Magazine in 2005, Arthur Lubow describes Goldsworthy as a “modern-day Impressionist” and parallels Goldsworthy’s fascination with the changing natural light and landscape with Monet’s. However what is equally fascinating about Goldsworthy’s work, and what Lubow notices as well, is the ephemerality of it. Often Goldsworthy’s work is only around for a few brief moments, just enough to be photographed, before being carried away by the wind or washed away by a tide. While Tree Fall is much less ephemeral than some of his other work, there is still an ephemerality to it. The clay crumbles and peels, and while perhaps the entire installation won’t be washed away, it will continue to go through it’s natural decaying processes. (There is also the imposed ephemerality of the installation only being open until Dec 1.) Goldsworthy’s art has something very important to say about the ephemerality of our natural world, and also about the beauty of it. His work calls us to appreciate the world around us, and asks us to look no further for art than outside our own door.

Disarm

"Disarm" - Pedro Reyes pedroreyes.net
“Disarm” – Pedro Reyes
pedroreyes.net

Pedro Reyes is a Mexican artist who believes in the power of creativity to transform violence. In his most recent piece, “Disarm,” Reyes took weapons that were confiscated from criminals in Mexico and transformed them into musical instruments. It is sort of a continuation of his 2012 piece “Imagine”  in which he used confiscated weapons to create traditional style musical instruments. In “Disarm” however, the instruments are not easily recognizable as instruments and are played using technology instead of directly by human musicians . The Creators Project released a video last month interviewing Reyes as well as many other people who worked on the project. The process to create and play these instruments is fascinating, and this piece offers a wonderful intersection between visual art/sculpture and music/performance art. However, what is perhaps the most incredible about this piece is what it says about the power of creativity. In his Creators Project interview, Reyes claims “creo que el trabajo del arte –o sea de la creatividad–es justo como puedes convertir sus instintos mas negativos, sus instintos de muerte, en instintos de creación.” Art, he claims, is about converting our negative instincts into creative ones. I think this is a beautiful way to look at the world and to look at art. How might our world look different if we were constantly thinking of ways to change our negative instincts into creative ones?