Self Portrait

 

Although not pictured here, when installed this piece hangs from the ceiling.  It is quite buoyant. There is an eyehook screw in the middle top of the sculpture. A very long spring attaches to the hook which is tied to the ceiling. There is an abstract painting on the underside of the sculpture. The stair-step tops are shined to a nice gloss. This is a continuation of thinking about weight and public/private matters.

Dimensions:18’x 30′ x 36′
Materials:Wood, spring, misc.
Completed:1990
Last Shown1991 “Surprise Visit”, one person show
Eureka College, Eureka, IL

Danger

Our bodies tolerate a lot of surprises and then turn around to surprise us. Ends up, bodies are not as reliable as we thought. This piece was up for about 2 weeks, and the water balloons did not break. The idea that they could give out at any moment added excitement to the piece. There was some discussion whether the forms relate to the male or female body and of course they do.

The installation of this piece could be placed in my “Performance Art Gallery” if I had one. Filling water balloons inside small bottles, tying and hanging them without breakage starts as a comedy but soon leads to tragedy with a touch of desperation. The final act may be long in coming but victory is realized! I love that the piece looks so calm and serene with no telltale sign of the drama.

Dimensions:40″ x 20″ x 4″ installed
Materials:Perrier bottles, water balloons
Completed:1990
Last Shown1990 MFA show

Single Occupancy

The experience: Open the door and enter a long hallway. Turn the lock on the door to “occupied” so you have privacy.  The door closes behind you if you leave it open. The room is a gold color, with carpeting like you’d find in any suburban home. At the end of the hallway is a room just big enough to contain a chair with very wide arms. Turn around and sit in the chair to face the doorway which has a mirror on the back of it. It’s just you in the chair and the mirror at the other end. There is no ceiling. You are in a private space within a public space. There is no ceiling so the noise wafts around you. The experience is akin to when attending a party you need a break from the din and being pleasant. A typical option is to take refuge in the bathroom. You close the door and “ah” finally a bit of peace. But then is it peaceful in there for you?

The first time this room was constructed, it was in a space familiar to most viewers. From the gallery, outside of the installation, the dimensions of the room were unclear and thus a surprise. The yellow interior glowed when the door was opened which created interest from those around the room.

There were varied reactions to the experience of Single Occupancy. One professor drank his coffee in it every morning as a respite; one visitor burst into tears and told me more than I ever expected to hear about an art viewer’s life and body image. Public/private, body image, peace of mind, are some of the topics that come into play. The experience may differ based on time of day and mood of the moment. Can you smile at yourself in the mirror or growl or avert your eyes or ignore your reflection? The comfy chair provided invites you to stay awhile, take all the time you need to figure it out.

Dimensions:12″ x 24″ x 8″
Materials:Room was constructed with the usual drywall materials complete with carpeted floor, mirror on back of door, chair, vacant/occupied lock, welcome matt.
Completed:1990, 1992
Last Shown :1992 “Speak”, group show
Randolph Street Gallery, Chicago

If You Knew

The body is involved with viewing all art but with installation even more so. Installation art relates to you (the viewer) standing there. It might make you more aware of your movements, your height or weight. It might surround you or ask you to participate with touch. It might require that you walk through it. It might be very particular to the space you are in and may not make sense anywhere else.

I was thinking a lot about how we feel emotions in our bodies. Where do you feel joy, fear, or anxiety? Head, stomach, shoulders, hands, feet? Can you locate it?  I tried to make a piece with x-rays to explore this physical emotion. It never quite got finished but this one emerged from the exploration.

A “stomach” is on a table that looks quite animated. It is nestled in the table – there are grooves where it sits as if it has been picked up and put down often. Maybe you come home from work, throw the keys in the basket, take off your shoes, remove your stomach, and relax?

When you view this piece you can see part of yourself in the mirror. It is an old mirror, the silver worn away in places. The locket stands open empty. There’s some kind of sadness and missing someone or thing.

Dimensions:4′ x 30″ x 3′
Materials:Mirror, locket, table top is buckeye wood, table legs are mahogany, object is water-based clay, covered in oil-based clay, covered with plastic.
Completed:1990
Last Shown :1991 “Surprise Visit”, one person show
Eureka College, Eureka, IL

Brush

There is something about wrapping an object to “make it feel better” that appeals to me. This brush has done all its work and is given an art life. The thing is, I just love objects. Walking along, I find some interesting thing on the ground. Sometimes I don’t even know what a piece of hardware or doodad is for, but it stays in my pocket. Most objects do not sing, but this brush I found just had meaning. If I were a writer, I would compose a poem to this brush. If I were a singer, a ballad would be required. But I am a sculptor; and this brush, like many objects, touches my heart in a wordless way.

Dimensions:8’x 3.5′ x 1′
Materials:sad old scrub brush, pretty pink ribbon
Completed:1989
Last Shown1990 “MFA 90”, group MFA thesis show
Smart Museum at University of Chicago
CollectionArtist

Bound and Proof

I really admire Christo’s work and was experimenting in graduate school with bound objects. More than anything else it might be more indicative of where my emotions where – tied up. The odd thing is that, much like a baby in a bunting, I found comfort in the tight wrapping. Bound was the first piece I did of this nature and Proof was the last. In Proof I was thinking about fragility as well as still enjoying how numbers animate objects.

Dimensions:Bound: 12″ x 24″ x 8″,  Proof: 30″x 15″x 4″
Materials:Bound: Plywood, foam, ribbon, white plastic, nails, paint
Proof:   Balloon, breath, ribbon, vinyl numbers
Completed:1989
Last Shown1990 MFA show
CollectionDestroyed

Sculpture Kit

At the start of my MFA program we were told to make a sculpture in the form and method in which we have been working. Although the intent was seemingly straight forward and meant to provide a way to ease into new work, it turned out to be surprisingly painful. In a short period of time, questions about my work and about myself were highlighted, leaving me feeling very vulnerable and testing my own validity as an artist.

Notes from my journal:
“After I put the Vernissage show together last June, I felt like I had some closure with the paper/screen work. Creating them again was more like following a recipe than pursuing a creative inspiriation – I felt like I was copying myself. This dissatisfaction was amplified by the questions asked of me during the first quarter – the issues are difficult enough when feeling confident of the work.

Because I felt that making this sculpture was much like following a kit, I decided to use the sculpture to show that. I dissected the work (which was very therapeutic) into parts, and provided instructions on how to make it by number; a sculpture-by-number that can be purchased in any discount store. The meaning can be expanded then to not only represent my own experience, but to comment on the absurdity of kits made for “learning” how to paint, and on the idea of making art objects reptitively, without thought, for the sole purpose of making money.”

It was a rough start into my MFA program but one thing that I came away with and still love (as a person who also has a bachelor’s degree in math) is how the numbers activate the piece. The brain starts churning to solve the numbers. Can the piece really be put together? What is the number pattern? Even today I don’t use math much in my work but I still delight in numbers and graphs even if it is for image only – fake science.

Dimensions:8′ x 8′ installed
Materials:Wiindow screening, paper pulp, sizing, vinyl numbers, hoops, wire, misc.
Completed:1989
Collection:Destroyed

Hopscotch

This scale hopscotch is a bit of humor that came out of another piece which was much more elaborate. It was a scale trail. There were some 20 scales with their own personalities – some covered in astro turf, some on fluffy pink rugs, a dual set for left and right foot, etc. I envisioned viewers to walk the trail but found that most walked beside them and observed. As always in the USA we then talked about the realities of getting sued if someone got hurt.

Out of this I came the idea of a pristine white scale hopscotch which I expected not to be hopped but to be experienced by looking. Inevitably I found footprints in numbers. Viewers also found the shape of an ancient cross. Playful or holy? That’s up to you.

Dimensions:8′ x 4′ installed
Materials:Floor mat and 9 shiny white scales
Completed:1989
Last Installed:1990 MFA show

Another Morning

Sometimes I play with bringing the body into the work more directly than relating to a sensual object like a stone carving. Carved sculpture involves the body by relating to its form and by touch or the desire to touch. Another Morning, as well as much installation art, involved the body whether the viewer physically got on the trampoline or not because they could feel how it would be to strive for that first warm cup – “the breakfast of champions.”

This piece was criticized as a “one liner” but sometimes that is enough for me, especially when it is among less accessible works in a show. Clarity and humor can be refreshing.

Dimensions:20’x 4′ x 4′ installed
Materials:Trampoline, Wheaties, breakfast serving, Wall St Journal, clock, shelf.
Completed:1989
Last installed1990 MFA show

Untitled

I made this small sculpture as a present for my brother and his wife for their wedding.

Completed:1984
Dimensions:8″ x 4″ x 5″
Materials:Black African Wonderstone
Collection:Dav and Fran Vandenbroucke
Alexandria, Va

Little Ditty For Janet

I was interested in the idea of small sculptures that you might just “come upon” on a walk outdoors or in a house. Not a formally shown work of Art but just something more intimate that you pick up and look at. This is the first in an ongoing series of Little Ditties to be Seen as you Like.

Completed:1983
Dimensions:6″ x 6″ x 3/4″
Materials:Black African Wonderstone
Last seen:This sculpture was given as a gift to my great friend and mentor Janet Miller, who is no longer with this world.  Chicago, IL.

Torso

Alborine is a stone used to top laboratory tables. It is very hard and I had no idea what a challenge I was taking on. I bought 2 of these stones and had the idea of one vertical and one horizontal with a specific relationship to each other. The horizontal stone idea faded as I broke carbide tipped chisels working on this one.

Completed:1981
Dimensions:28″ x 15″ x 18″
Materials:Alborine
Collection:Patricia Raube
Binghamton, New York

Torso

Alborine is a stone used to top laboratory tables. It is very hard and I had no idea what a challenge I was taking on. I bought 2 of these stones and had the idea of one vertical and one horizontal with a specific relationship to each other. The horizontal stone idea faded as I broke carbide tipped chisels working on this one.

Completed: 1981
Dimensions: 28″ x 15″ x 18″
Materials: Alborine
Collection: Patricia Raube
Binghamton, New York

Flower

This Flower sculpture was made in tribute to Georgia O’Keeffe. It is made out of a wonderful soft sedimentary rock from South Africa.

I studied stone carving with Nita Sunderland at Bradley University, Peoria, IL. She was a gruff teacher and is an excellent sculptor. I carved this over the summer when school was out of session. When Nita came back and learned I had finished the piece, she told me she hoped I wasn’t too in love with it because she hadn’t seen it. My stomach lurched at the idea of having to change the form that I truly loved. (This is the one sculpture I will always keep.) I then showed it to her and she had nothing to say. She thought it was great too.

Completed:1980
Dimensions:8″ x 18″ x 12″
Materials:Black African Wonderstone
Collection:Deb Vandenbroucke (the artist)
Madison, WI

Alabaster

This sculpture is a variation on The Marble, a sculpture I imagined large enough to climb on. The form is even more organic and is foreshadowing of sculptures to come.

Completed:1979
Dimensions:14″ x 12″ x 12″
Materials:Alabaster
Last Seen:Nancy Renfer of Sycamore, IL received this sculpture as a gift and I have long lost track of her.

The Marble

This was my first stone sculpture. Eureka College did not have pneumatic carving tools so it was made with traditional hammer and chisel.

I was thinking of this piece as a model for a huge 2-story one that you could climb into. If I could lean my whole body into the shape it would have felt cool and comforting.

Completed:1979
Dimensions:27″ x 24″ x 8″
Materials:Marble
Last Seen:Katy Weeks and Dave Kay
Harvard, Massachusetts

Cleo

I can be quite patient with stone. I can work on it for years, tolerating slow progress when necessary. But my patience runs out when anything to do with thread or yarn is required. In weaving we had a class project, and the class tried to keep me away from it as much as possible. One night I had a dream of how to crochet. I had never crocheted before or even considered it. I tried it out and the dream technique actually worked! Thus I saved my grade point average by creating this sculptural crochet piece.

I don’t remember why it got named “Cleo”. It had something to do with what we were studying in art history. Cleopatra’s snake perhaps?

I sort of doubt that the sculpture still survives. Eureka College acquired it, and it sat in a lounge for awhile like a much-beloved pet.

Dimensions:approx 12″ diameter tube, 36″ ht x 46″
Materials:Yarn, chicken wire
Completed:1978
Collection:Eureka College
Eureka, IL

Da Mi Bassia

This was my my second sculpture. A walnut tree had been donated to the Eureka College Art Department. I told my professor, Wayne Forbes, that I wanted from “here” to “here” on the tree. He thought it was very funny and expected that I would not carve such a large sculpture but to amuse me had the piece cut out of the tree. It took me a year but as you can see, I wasn’t kidding.

I used a chain saw much of the time. The wood was not dry so it had a very strong smell. The cracks in the wood resulted from not drying it out in a slow manner. I think they add interest to the surface.

I was interested in forms where you could not tell if it was one single entity or two or more that were intertwined. (I took much chiding about going through an “intestinal” phase.) The result is a hug. The name is from Carmina Burana which we were singing in chorus at the time – Give me Kisses. If you know the proper spelling, please let me know! The piece was made so that it could be flipped and shown in different ways, although the pictured view is the one I like best.

Completed:1978
Dimensions:27″ x 24″ x 20″
Materials:Walnut
Collection:Property of the Artist, Deb Vandenbroucke

Feelie

This was my first carved sculpture. I took a sculpture class as an undergraduate because I needed a Humanities credit.

The assignment was to make something that felt good with your eyes closed. To tell you the truth, I never got over it.

Completed:1977
Dimensions:12″ x 4″ x 4″
Materials:Redwood
Last seen:This sculpture was given as a wedding gift to Terry and Dave Miller in Peoria, IL who I long ago lost track of.