I moved the Observer out of Wind Up Here on Wednesday and stopped for coffee at Batdorf and Bronson with the sculpture in the wheelchair, which caused a bit of a stir: folks were whipping out their cell phones and taking photos, which struck me as amusing (what, you’ve never seen art in a wheelchair before?).
Anyway, I installed the Observer at Newbury Bay Ltd, which is owned by my son Max’s friend Frank’s mother Lena; she had an empty chair in the window waiting for our arrival and put a Gerber daisy into the figure’s free hand.
We were joined by Marie, who is a major part of the story of how I started using plastic wrap to create these sculptures.
It all started back in the fall of 2005: I was organizing Duck the Malls arts and crafts sale benefit for the Olympia Film Society and also designing an hands-on art project for the Museum of Glass for when I would be the artist-in-the studio in January 2006. The exhibit at MOG that I wanted to tie into was Karen LaMonte: Absence Adorned, which consists of these ghostly life-sized glass dresses that suggest the body that once wore them. I was frustrated, trying various materials to create doll-sized dresses: paper, aluminum foil, corrugated cardboard, duct tape, etc.
Meanwhile, Marie and Diane P (WomenRock Productions) came by my studio, wanting to participate in Duck the Malls, and Marie asked me if I wanted a large roll of plastic wrap from the Olympia Food Coop that was going to be thrown away because it wasn’t the right size for the cutter but could not be returned. At first, I declined; I use plastic bags, bubble wrap, foam wrap, candy wrappers, but didn’t think that I needed to include plastic wrap in my oeuvre.
But I thought about it some more, and ran into her at the Mekong, and told her that I would like to give the plastic wrap a try. WOW. The plastic wrap, combined with tape, has a luminous, almost opalescent quality. It worked well on the small-scale dresses that I did at MOG; I also found out that plastic wrap comes in a variety of colors and that Reynolds brand has the best device for actually cutting the wrap. I experimented with different kinds of tape at MOG, including transparent and invisible; the latter had a kind of smoked effect. One of the students discovered that it was cool to wrap the pattern with the plastic wrap and tape and then, after cutting it off the pattern, turn it inside out.
I read about wrapping people with packaging tape on the Getty teacher art exchange list serve, and decided to try that, combining it with the plastic wrap for texture. My studio mate Jenny was my first live model; I wrapped her on the days when I was not working at MOG. While at MOG, I wrapped various things, including styrofoam heads, old shoes, paper coffee cups, and a mannequin that I borrowed from my neighbor Tucker.
The mannequin sculpture became part of the Coffee and Cigarettes series for the Java Divas exhibit that I curated at South Puget Sound Community College gallery this past April…another story for another time.
The Observer is moving from Newbury Bay Ltd to Last Word Books today at noon. I am also going to wrap Mellington Cartwright at my studio; she will become the Dreamer.