Fantasy of Ability, the evolution of an idea
Hippocrates Promise, a body of work named after the well-known oath to do no harm, developed into a preoccupation with the dynamics of capacity and its opposite. Limbed forms, appendages and hardware are assembled into a range of tableaus or a stage of operations for the re-enactment of the healing process. The act of forging or casting steel components and fabricating pulley systems into simulations of the hardware and rigging used in orthopedic traction become metaphorical labors of repair. The artificial space of a white walled gallery evokes the sterile space of the hospital environment. Here the colliding bodies we hide away, the bodies we will become someday, the bodies that decay, that heal and die, are revealed. This work has undergone multiple transformations and was recently exhibited: Perception and Ability, March 10-May 26, 2013, curated by Gabriel Buzgo at the Evergreen Museum.
The logical end of Hippocrates Promise is Fantasy of Ability. Here I removed the tableau in order to animate the form. The experience of the work is now a visceral participation in the limited movement of a fetishized, almost unrecognizable lower limb.
Corners and Convergence-work in forged steel
This body of work is informed by my deep affinity for cellular and anatomical structures found in nature and represents ongoing visual research of pure form. Conversations that recur within the series are those that continue to interest me. Every surface is rendered by the forging hammer into steel twigs and branches, the building blocks of this series. The approach is intuitive and experimental; utilizing “cut and paste,” a simple gesture may relocate parts or whole pieces, liberating me from preconceiving the work. Essentially armature with no mass, the shadows cast by these forms can be re-incorporated into drawings or embroideries. The work that is installed outdoors is powder coated in order to prevent oxidation and corrosion.
Printmaking is an important part of my practice. I work mostly in black ink; I’m not interested in the effects spacial implications of color so the print is really more like a drawing. This series relates to my years working as a nurse; it represents the psychological and physiological research of imagery and ideas that reflect the many contradictions I experienced.
My research/collaboration with Dr. Katie Staab, her students in comparative anatomy at McDaniel College and the installation of their work along with mine in the Rice Gallery, fall 2015. Dr. Staab's teaching style is unique; she understands how memory retention and learning is enhanced when students draw from their specimens and this discipline is incorporated into their syllabus (a practice now scientifically verified, see ref. below). Dr. Staab requires her students to make detailed anatomical drawings of their dissections and I placed some of the best in a portfolio in the gallery exhibit. Students also visualize their specimens using special cameras and 3-D printing and samples of this work were represented. The opening for the show was packed with her biology students, many had never been to an art exhibit let alone be selected to participate.
Process is central to my work; sometimes just fooling around will lead me to a sudden recognition, a surface, a shape or a feeling of space. Manipulating materials into the stuff of thought takes tremendous concentration and focused time, not to mention financial resources.
Transforming the Rice Gallery into a cabinet of curiosities, or “wunderkammer,” “Skepsis” was an exhibition of sculptural objects and works on paper installed together with McDaniel College students’ scientific studies (Comparative Anatomy of Vertebrates, Dr. Katie Staab) October 2015.
Skepsis, in this context, refers to inquiry or investigation; in philosophy it refers to various methods of intellectual caution and suspended judgment. Because these ideas were incorporated into the central narrative of the exhibit, fetal cat skeletons in petri dishes installed next to steel sculpture appeared to possess similar visual or conceptual weight.
I'd like to thank my mother Anne K. Gilleran of Detroit, Michigan, for financially supporting this exhibit. I couldn't have accomplished so much without her help.
Line, in all it's manifestations is a singular preoccupation. A drawing can be made with anything,