About the Exhibition
Material World features new commissions by Rachel Foullon, Corin Hewitt, Matthew Day Jackson, Peter Kreider, and Mamiko Otsubo. The works, which range from personal monuments to visionary landscapes, are each made using materials that directly relate to or are inspired by the artist’s chosen subject matter.
Rachel Foullon, Housescape
Rachel Foullon’s Housescape is composed of five objects: a blue-and-white two-story beach house, an orange camping tent, a weather-beaten horse trough, a parquet dance floor, and a satellite dish. Each object is built to have its own scale in relationship to reality. Foullon (b.1978, Glendale, CA) chooses to work in a range of materials in order to make each object as realistic as possible, variously using wood, bronze, rubber, Plexiglas, and aluminum.
Installed on a grassy area on the MetroTech Commons, Housescape suggests a surreal modern-day rural homestead inserted into an urban landscape. With their various scales and materials, the objects in Housescape each seem to come from a different era and place. Foullon notes that each object “has a particular time-life built into it”—the trough seems old, as if it is a relic from another time, while the satellite dish looks slick and contemporary. The tent is provisional while the house evokes permanence. The dance floor suggests a one-night party rental, left out after the event is long over. Taken together, the objects prompt a series of perceptual shifts, encouraging the viewer to take a closer look.
Corin Hewitt, Legacy
Corin Hewitt’s work for MetroTech, Legacy, is a 21-foot-long rainbow made of cast street sweepings. The rainbow’s seven bands range in tone from brown to gray, and are flecked with color. Hewitt (b.1971, Burlington, VT) cast the brands from actual debris collected on seven consecutive days by the city’s street sweeping machines: dirt, grit, gravel, gum wrappers, bottle caps, socks, plastic combs, and whatever other litter the sweeper picked up during the course of a day. There is a small bronze beard that appears to be crawling out of the hole in the ground where the rainbow emerges.
The rainbow is rich with cultural, mythological, and religious connotations; it has come to suggest multiculturalism, gay pride, and utopianism. In creating a rainbow out of the city’s detritus—the stuff we usually sweep out of the way so we can see what we want to—Hewitt creates a poignant yet ambiguous ode to the city at large. He sees the enigmatic addition of the bronze beard as signifying our “attempts to find meaning in naturally occurring, transient forms from both the body and from nature.”
Matthew Day-Jackson, Staff of Lady Liberty
Matthew Day Jackson’s recent sculptures take as their starting point some of history’s most legendary artifacts, icons, and figures–the covered wagon, the Alamo, a flagpole, and a Viking boat, to name a few. Interested in how America’s past continues to play out in our current political and social landscape, and, more importantly, how it might impact the future, Jackson (b.1974, Panorama City, CA) creates mixed-media works that teem with cultural references. He uses a wide variety of found objects and natural materials to create his sculptures, resulting in complex works that seem at once rustic and recent.
Jackson’s sculpture for MetroTech, Staff of Lady Liberty, is an optimistic tribute to the future that begins by recognizing the wisdom and human spirit of important figures of American history. The sculpture is rich in symbolism, celebrating grass roots movements, utopian mysticism, and ancient wisdom about nature. Standing eleven feet tall, the cast bronze staff resembles a tree branch adorned with representations of mythological animals, historic episodes, and portraits of progressive figures such as Eleanor Roosevelt, Abraham Lincoln, Benjamin Franklin, and Sacajawea. Jackson first made the sculpture out of scrap wood and then added on a variety of found objects and store-bought vintage trinkets: a souvenir totem pole, a coin commemorating the opening of the Lincoln Tunnel bearing its namesake’s portrait, a painted ceramic bust, and other objects, each one extracted from history’s consumer clutter to form a very loose portrait of American culture.
Peter Kreider, an upward-down
Peter Kreider’s sculptures shift between the ordinary world and a more ambiguous zone of enchantment, where mysterious or abnormal things occur. Many of his works seem to be under the influence of invisible forces. Other works transform familiar objects, often by delightfully simple means, exaggerating both the physical presence and strangeness of familiar objects. Kreider’s works act as unassuming portals, offering another way of seeing what is around us.
For his installation at MetroTech, Kreider (Lancaster, PA) explores the properties of one of modern culture’s most familiar, utilitarian objects. an upward-down is a colonnade of several unusually tall, identical fire hydrants, designed in the same classically inspired vein as New York City’s standard-issue street fixtures. But these hydrants are purely decorative, stripped of all functionality. They have no valves and nozzles, and are rendered in pink cultured marble instead of cast iron. The title, an upward-down, refers to the push-and-pull between above and below ground. Actual hydrants draw water from below, while these overgrown sculptural versions seem to sprout from the ground. They rise up against their prescribed height and function as if, Kreider notes, “by their own will or by some unknown influence.” While mimicking the grandiosity of traditional Greek and Roman architecture, the colonnade maintains the humility of the urban vernacular.
Mamiko Otsubo, Untitled
Mamiko Otsubo’s sculptures, paintings and photographs portray the natural world and landscape through the cultural filters of design and industry. Otsubo (b.1974, Nishinomiya City, Japan) takes conventional scenes of nature and represents them in three dimensions, using image and abstraction as a means of highlighting the disparity between nature and landscape. By utilizing various synthetic materials and fabrication methods, Otsubo evokes what she describes as “a blended image of the picturesque sublime, the view from a drive in my automobile, and nuances of feeling created by modernist designs.”
Otsubo’s installation for the lobby of One MetroTech Center consists of three separate, untitled sculptures, which together transform the corporate space into an abstracted landscape. The largest sculpture is a simplified greenhouse structure built of steel and Plexiglas, and filled with a variety of acrylic greenery. The work is inspired in part by Henri Rousseau’s jungle paintings: a round, plastic lamp hangs low amidst the plants, like a sun in one of his dense landscapes. The second work, a two-part sculpture made of tinted plastic, sits on both ends of the lobby reception desk where flower arrangements might normally be. Although it is 3-D, the work is meant to suggest a 2-D “logo” of a mountain range. For the third work, Otsubo incorporates an existing strip of silver on the inside of the lobby’s window as a horizon line for a series of window-box landscapes. The lacquered boxes contain abstract interpretations of undulating landmasses, clouds, and a sun.