September 2 – 30, 2014
Opening Reception: Sunday, Sept. 7, 2 - 4 pm
Deborra Stewart-Pettengill has lived and worked in western Massachusetts and southern New Hampshire for 27 years. Receiving an MFA from Virginia Commonwealth University and a BFA from University of South Carolina, she has exhibited work in solo and group shows, both regionally and nationally. She is currently a member of The Oxbow Gallery in Northampton, and chairs the Fine Arts Department at The Bement School in Deerfield.
The sculptures in this exhibition continue a metaphorical exploration of transition, joint dependence, support and coalescence. I see these pieces as interconnected by a common formal theme, repeated within each piece and reiterated throughout the body of work. These elements are cut from flat, woven geometric shapes, and formed into organic modular units and gathered into a relationship with other similar forms. Each work becomes a point of reflection, and meditation.
My current practice begins with investigating structures that rely upon repeating formal organic elements contained within a specific perimeter. The movement created by a gathering of similar forms within a tightly contained space is intriguing, and leads me to experiment with creating pieces that capture a sense of motion, direction, equilibrium or stasis. These pieces and the materials from which they are created are challenging me to investigate the quality of value and transparency within the realm of fragility.
Over the past four years, I have discovered the organic outgrowth of this process is as rewarding as creating a specific piece or adhering to a rigid structure. The pieces continue to grow into themselves, allowing me to learn from them as they evolve.
In March, I carried these two incentives (inspirations) to an artist residency in Ireland, where I spent two weeks of 14-hour days exploring, experimenting, and taking risks with a new material. My goal was to work with the idea of “FLOW”, using modular interdependent forms for the components. My previous work was created in screen wire, and I wanted to keep the same transparent quality, while exploring a similar but different material. Moving from screen wire to tarlatan (starched cheesecloth) offered many challenges. However, the differences in malleability and transparency provided rewarding results and surprises. Upon my return from the residency, I began focusing totally on tarlatan as a material, and began exploring value (light to dark) as a dominant element.
These pieces challenged me to investigate the nature of value within the realm of transparency, and fragility. Designing them to be installed directly on the gallery wall allowed me to keep each form fluid, and flexible as it relates to the particular space in which it is located. The sculptures in this exhibition continue a metaphorical exploration of transition, joint dependence, and coalescence. The ethereal quality revealed in the layers of overlapping shapes created by fabric and shadows offers a meditative respite as I work.
I see these pieces as interconnected by a common formal theme, repeated within each piece and reiterated throughout the body of work.