Saturday, August 9, 2014

Why I chose Charles Sheeler as style inspiration

For the sculptures I'm making for the Electra C. Doren library I chose a painting by Charles Sheeler as my inspiration. 

In the ReImagining Works initiative the Dayton community (and especially the library user community) voted on pieces from the Dayton Art Institute's permanent collection. They chose a small subset of pieces that they wanted the artist to pick from when they created original artwork to put in their community library.

The artists submitting proposals chose one or more of these pieces for the inspiration for their idea. The inspiration could be broadly interpreted. Any aspect of the selected artwork could be used as the source of inspiration for the proposed artwork. It could be the inspiring artist's use of color, the art historical period, the style, the theme, a particular technique, etc.

I chose the Stacks in Celebration by Charles Sheeler as the style inspiration for my proposal.

Stacks in Celebration - Charles SheelerPhoto Credit: Dayton Art Institute
I've loved the work of Sheeler since I was in art school. The sense of balance he created between representing reality and abstraction is very appealing to me and aligned with my own work. He created a tension that triggers a viewer to think “What am I seeing?” and actively participate in understanding the artwork. If you look quickly at Stacks in Celebration you see factory smoke stacks and buildings. But then something looks "wrong". He fractured the reality of industrial buildings into transparent overlaps, impossible relationships, and he has faceted the sky in colors and shapes.

By presenting simplified flat images in my sculptural cutouts I aim to create a similar tension. I want viewers to make sense of the patterns in my sculpture and assemble them into their understanding. Sheeler’s theme of industrial achievement and his precision-edged sharp angles, and flat planes are a perfect vehicle to use in sculpture, especially the clean lines and flat planar surfaces I’m proposing for my steel silhouette cutouts. 

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