Artists have long known that the nature of a substance affects the outcome of a project. On the surface, this seems obvious. After awhile, this fact finds its way into the recesses of
memory and is not consciously resourced. It becomes reflexive or automatic. I was reminded about this relationship between material and outcome, this week, during a discussion with an architect.
I gave this a little thought, then decided to purposely choose some containers and contents, strictly by what they’re made of. I was surprised at the final results of the compositions.
I began by sifting through some storage containers in the basement, to see what they might yield. First, I stumbled across some old souvenirs from Amsterdam that I’d forgotten about. Right away, I knew that wood was going to be one of the materials.
Certainly, I was also influenced by the artifact, itself. The wooden shoe triggered memories of a bike ride through the Dutch countryside. Small, delicate flowers, like those I remembered, would complete this arrangement.
The next item needed a lot of extra effort, but I still wanted to use it. The silver vase required a generous amount of polishing compound and plenty of elbow grease. As I rubbed away, the idea for material and composition came to mind. Steam-formed wood provides a perfect counterpoint to the shiny, industrial nature of polished metal.
A stoneware vase with an aboriginal theme triggered the immediate vision of a blend of the traditional with the avant-garde. There was no hesitation as the composition came together intuitively.
I learned an important lesson with these experiments. That is, I need to pay closer attention to the nature of the materials, themselves, when I take on a project.