One of the things I am working through is how I might depict or use the chair to further the ideas I have in mind for my grant project. While doing so, I was reminded of a panelist’s comments on a grant application submission a few years ago, which was something to the effect of “What’s with the chairs…?” I can only assume he or she didn’t actually read through the submitted material. In any case, it got me to musing about the how artists portray inanimate objects in a way the gives them a personality of their own and/or furthers a concept, symbolic or metaphorical.
2-dimensional representations often include an object for their cultural or historical connotations. Anthropomorphic depictions are common and, certainly, a particular style or technique can elicit a feeling or idea. The ink drawing to the right is my doodle depicting a “nude” chair (with footrest ;-). Do you see it?
Sculpture and mixed-media depictions often have the greater advantage. There is a visceral response to seeing an actual object, that is used on a daily basis, become something other. Meret Oppenheim’s fur-covered teacup, saucer and spoon is a case in point. I cannot look at that piece without gagging, as I try to imagine drinking out of it, with the resulting feeling of swallowing fur.
And I squirm as I imagine sitting in Günther Uecker’s chair with nails. Ouch!
In a diptych piece I created a couple of years ago, I used a combination of 2-D, 3-D and bas relief with an actual chair as the focal point. Attached to one panel is a chair that had been handed down through four generations of women in my family. It is tied up because it was/is, literally, falling apart as it ages in place. The panel on the left depicts, in bas relief, the spaces ‘in between’ of the chair. The surfaces of both panels are layered, collaged and inscribed. With this piece, I was exploring layers of memory and relationships through the generations via this chair.
All of these approaches are being considered as I think through my next piece. While still a bit fuzzy, the ideas in mind are beginning to clarify.
Thanks for reading!