Monday, May 16, 2011


We usually associate transparency with glass, but I don’t use glass in my sculpture.  I use a structure made of various types of wire constructed in a way that not only allows you to see the shape defined by the wire, but also the space contained within the wire.  You can also see right through the shape to the background.  It creates three different spaces—the shape in space, the space in the shape, and the two of those combined with the surrounding environment. 
The simple reason why I’m interested in transparency in sculpture has to do with a metaphor for how we are and how we think of ourselves in the world.  Everybody has two ways of thinking of themselves.  One way is that this body—arms, legs, feet, hands, hair—is me, Rick.  Another way is to think that this body—arms, legs, feet, hands, hair—is Rick’s house; I live in here.  We are aware of both senses of the body at different times.  
When we’re healthy and well, especially when we are in some kind of physical ecstasy, we think of ourselves as our body.  Every little part of our bodies is us.  But when we’re unwell, in a transcendent delirious state, or a dream state, we think of ourselves as living inside our body.  Think for a minute of the most brilliant man in the world: Steven Hawking.  Does he think of himself as his body?  Does he think of his body as Steven Hawking?  I doubt it.  He probably thinks of himself as a prisoner trapped in his body.  
We all have that feeling sometimes.  That’s where my idea of transparency comes about—it presents the body and reveals space within that can be occupied or emptied, in the sense that you can see right through it depending on its internal state.  In one of my latest sculptures, “Infection,” I constructed beautiful corpuscles out of red wire that are invading a wooden structure.  The wooden structure is geometric, the corpuscles are organic.  Solid=rational, transparent=chaos.

This is a sculpture of a big head, a self-portrait made of copper wire.  It stands on a wood structure that is just my shoulder height, with an opening for my head.  Not so much a self-portrait, but a head trap just for me.  

In the wire sculpture called “Hands,” you’re invited to put your hand inside the hand, but you’re still outside the chamber that contains the hand itself.

You also see this use of transparency in drawing a full figure with an opening for the top and another for the bottom. 

In an older sculpture called Medicine Chest, a characteristic of transparency indicates that the form is in the process of construction.

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