from AT PLAY at Hodges Taylor Art Constultancy
The Latin phrase Ludere est contemplari as discussed in James Schall's On the Seriousness of Human Behavior creates an effective framework for the pieces included in this exhibition. It was the Greek philosophers who initiated the dialogue in search of a deeper understanding of how work (serious matters) and play (activities of leisure) fit into life. Ludere est contemplari translates 'to play is to contemplate'. For Aristotle, the interesting thing about play was that it was unnecessary, this freedom, from always performing for a particular result, is what made acts of play noble and what he considered one of the highest activities we could engage in.
How work and play are understood is dependent upon the individual’s experience. I have come to define work and play as a specific mental state that is heightened in my studio practice as I produce functional objects and sculpture in wood. I'm looking for ways to interweave these disparate attitudes: work often associated with a seriousness and play with freedom and frivolity, and to flesh out the idea of “to play is to contemplate”. In this exhibition I'm pairing structure, stability, and systems with intuition, improvisation, and spontaneity. The effort to meld play with its counterpart while making physical objects is a touchstone in my process and continues to provide new and fruitful spaces for contemplation and meditation.
The work in this exhibition takes the basic opposing forces of seriousness and spontaneity to examine several pieces where the use of found materials intermingles with fabricated and painted forms in wood. Using this as a stage to magnify the relationship humans have to their personal spaces and surrounding built environments, my own sense of play comes to light. Raw construction sites not yet inhabited by interior decor or defined by function serve as a backdrop to look more closely at the psychology of place making and however thoughtfully or thoughtlessly our environments shift around us. A child uses block play to simulate an innate need to build and understand form, while at the same time her caregivers may tend to the environment around her by cleaning, creating order, and making new and more efficient spatial arrangements. It is my observation that both young and mature minds seem to take pleasure in the fluidity of a changing space and by engaging with the simple objects they are surrounded by.
James Schall asks, "What do you 'do' when all else is “done”?”. When you are free from tasks of work, what acts of play do you engage in? Studying and collecting found materials, making and arranging new forms (functional or not), and using color for expression are my forms of play, it is what I do even when all else is not done. As an artist, I recognize freedom of expression as both a privilege and a responsibility, it is my belief that intentional acts of play, improvisation, and risk taking are necessary for contemplation which leads to constructive growth and new levels of discovery.