Sunday, October 30, 2011

Featured Member Artist: Simone Spicer

Industry and over population are the roots of my newest work as I see more, read more and feel more about where we are as a species. How can an artist work with anything but this incredible unfolding of our probable collapse? I love us, and I can't believe what we do, all of us, everyday. I ask myself, is our disregard for the natural world natural? Are we just running our course? I think we are.

My most recent works are made primarily from waste materials like corrugated cardboard, recyclables and various off falls of society. I approach these materials with reverence for the miracles that they are, and with an intention to give them a new and elevated life, thus turning the tide from waste to meaning while acknowledging the element of waste. I believe that the most relevant is found in the every day, and like an archeologist working with the discarded items of a culture, I value the materials I use for the information they hold. Corrugated cardboard for example tells the story of our lives as it references containers, machinery, packaging, travel, shipping, shopping, manufacturing, mass production, organic and inorganic matter, waste, re-cycling, paper, trees... and so on. All these ideas are important to my expression.

My cardboard figures are hollow containers. They are contradictory; being about what we deem most valuable, namely human life, and also about the valueless, cardboard. In my series of 'Street People' the valued and the valueless become interchangeable, and a spiritual quality arises because the base material is so transformed.

Non-precious, passed over and grotesque in volume, are plastic water bottles. They are a clue into our horrible relationship with this planet. They are also about incredible mastery over the planet and its resources. They are a masterpiece of design and ingenuity in wondrous transparency and variation of shape and size. They inspired me to make the piece titled 'Pumped', a kinetic work. This work was actually in progress when the gulf oil spill happened. I was thinking about this beautiful piece of blackish brown fleece fabric I had in my studio and how nice it was visually against my growing collection of shiny water bottles in my recycling bin. When I decided to add small mechanical pumps under each bottle, creating them to rise and fall giving movement to the piece and aliveness to the black 'water', the work instantly referenced human sexuality. I noticed the shapes of the bottles and how phallic they are and wonder if this is some marketing secret? I feel this piece introduces our animal nature as a force behind our destruction of the environment. We don't seem to be able to help it, and somehow in the muck, the water bottles are sparkling with reflectivity on the lush black fleece and there is a certain beauty in the face of the depletion and degradation.

There is a similar style of beauty and hideousness in the 'Cardboard Cornfield' I am building in my studio now. The cardboard is as flavorless and manufactured as the corn is in Iowa. Similarly hideous, cardboard which is my means to producing big work fast and economically, takes many resources to create. The beauty is that my purpose is the art form. The precision of the grid format and the machine made aspect of the cardboard excite me the way the grid format and the machine have excited so many artists in the past. The regularity and predictability of the rows of corrugation inspire me to press upon them my human imperfection' and affiliation with the natural world, and to speak of the corn's perspective. The stalks I am making have the flowing elegance of Chinese ink brush painting. The material suits the image. It is intrinsically strong when I roll it up into stalks, and very delicate when I separate the paper layers of the corrugated sheets. To make the ears of corn, I am using the inner corrugated layer as an expression of the organic kernels, and the outer layers for their papery husks. This Cardboard Cornfield is in the early stage of development. My intention is to make cornstalks until I am thoroughly sick of them and then to make a few more. I intend to have a small field in my studio of individual cornstalks grounded in cardboard 'dirt' mounds that can butt up against each other to form rows. My intention is to reflect on the domestication of corn from the early Mexican version of a staple food to the contemporary version of corn as an over produced raw material. I am seeking to find myself somewhere in the vastness of my own cornfield and in the vastness of our ever increasingly combined man made/natural environment.

The earth has experienced tremendous changes in its 4 billion years. If the atmosphere returns to methane again for a few hundred thousand years, earth will be okay. We are only doing ourselves in. We are a blink of an eye in geological time, and with that thought, I make images that celebrate us and confront us with ourselves.  

Link to Simone's WCA portfolio: here
See all of our WCA Featured Member artists here.
See all of WCA Featured Member galleries here.

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