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Prototype for Pla Gallery

Prototype for Play

Prototype for Play Text

Prototype for Play

Plaster and acrylic paint

A desire I had recently was to create a sculptural world where objects could elicit multiple associations. I
am interested in ambiguity regarding the meaning of individual objects in conjunction with the gestalt of a
collection of many. With this interest, I seek to elicit feeling, memory, and imagination in the viewer. In
the manner of dreamwork the forms merge and shift in meaning and explore binaries: marginalized and
privileged, naive and sophisticated; nostalgic and unsentimental; playful and serious; hard and soft;
inorganic and organic, individual and collective, and homemade and machine-made.

While working on Prototype for Play, I was inspired by my personal memories. I recalled the lighthearted
approach I had as child when playing with blocks and building structures. I would roll around on the rug,
make a mess, and play with my friends. There was lightheartedness in this play; constructions born of
great attention could be easily abandoned for new works. We would build things then tear them down, to
build something new again. This was the nature of the medium of blocks and of childhood play. The play
with blocks, a creative marginalized medium and art process, possesses a freedom, while engaging
directed attention. That is, the creation has a rationale and intent, where formal matters are
unconsciously or consciously considered. This exploration, observing, reflecting, and making choices
defines creative play.

As adults we are serious about art. We value art made by adults and we assess formal qualities in a
consequential, and institutionally derived way. We are observant, analytical and critical guided by the
lineage of art in conjunction with emerging social issues. We put art in a clean and controlled gallery and
present it on a white pedestal, with a label, and deem it fine art. There is monetary value associated with
the art. What is hidden, and perhaps of less interest is the aspect of play that took place in the process of
making the art, however play certainly did occur. We experiment, we try things out, and assess. As Jasper
Johns said, “Take an object. Do something to it. Do something else to it.”

For the creation of Prototype for Play I worked from a series of different memories I had of colors and
forms: block shapes, 50s green, 70s green, 80s cheese puffs and Cheetos orange, Legos, cities, sunlight on
objects, and the simplicity of forms in Giorgio Morandi’s paintings.

After creating Prototype for Play, I noticed the simplified block shapes were dreamlike in that they offered
the paradox of a movable still life, where new configurations of the same objects triggered a flood of
varied associations. I saw families, kitchens, delicacies, sunlight, neighborhoods, specialty foods, bakeries,
diners, production, and industry within stacked cities. I imagine the viewer perceiving the work as edible
delicacies behind glass; the triangle shapes recall sliced cake and wedges of cheese. Wayne Thiebaud’s
dessert paintings came to mind bringing with it American history and pop art. From another perspective, I
thought of Edward Hopper and his nostalgic shadows, but here they are movable with one side of the
block painted darker than the other. With this work there is a familiarity born of memory, simple beauty,
and an invitation for some sort of tactile and perhaps unself-conscious engagement with the art.

In the gallery, the viewers will initially approach the work as something separate from themselves to be
observed and assessed in the manner of much art. And then, they will see that they are invited to stack
and rearrange the blocks and to play. Thus, this work is an interactive installation that is constantly in flux
and ephemeral without the idea of completion or even clear authorship.


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