Inscaping, 2002

Exhibition at Solway Jones Gallery, Los Angeles, CA

Review by Leah Ohlman in the Los Angeles Times

detail of inside, Gazebo

The poet Gerard Manley Hopkins invented the term inscape in the 1860s. Inscape refers to the intrinsic particularity of everything on earth. As Hopkins saw it, the unique, individual identity, the pattern of detail in every flower, rock, fish, or bird represented what was holy about it, in a sense, its "soul," with humans being the most highly "inscaped." For Hopkins, souls are not easily perceived under normal circumstances by people going about their everyday lives. People don’t see the grandeur of the everyday, and therefore walk about in a kind of dreary, metaphysical greyness. However, the central and ecstatic essence of a thing will shine "like shining from shook foil" to the one who learns to see. Like many artists, Hopkins understood that vision, in this sense, requires some shift of perspective, some turn of the mind—and that sometimes perception requires even a kind of pain. Ashy embers, seemingly bare of fire, suddenly "fall, gall themselves, and gash gold-vermillion" in a revelation of their true hidden beauty and intensity.

By foregrounding and thus elevating to protagonist those natural elements which are usually exist only as mise-en-scene, this work reflects a sincere attachment to splendors which are often overlooked but can still astound.

Hopkins used language to transform the ordinary into the exquisite.This work does the same through scale, subject matter and materials. Physical size and metaphysical value are often intertwined, but it is possible to make a grand gesture in a minute scale. The simple source materials of plastic, cardboard and insulation foam are not obfuscated, merely reconfigured. These materials are often combined with porcelain, a material with extensive art historical references. Common light and noise is edited out and replaced with theatrical twilight and sound--such as the extraordinarily ordinary sound of crickets.

The history of landscape architecture is one of civilizationís attempts to understand, organize or dominate nature. The highly structured Italian Renaissance and French Salon gardens reflected a belief in Manís supremacy over his environment. The later English gardens, which grew in favor during the Romantic era, mirrored desire for more poetic and less determined spaces.

These works reflect on both perceptions. There exists minimal obvious influence of a gardener in the structuring of the flora. However, the spaces are contained. Their perimeters are strongly defined and as such reflect a strong nod to an "overall architect." The works are entitled to reflect this participation in the lexicon of landscape architecture. A "ha-ha" is a camouflaged deep trough dug into aristocratic gardens to catch illegal poachers. The trespassers fall into it and are impaled on sharp daggers at the bottom. It is called a ha-ha because the only one laughing is the gardenís owners. A "quodlibet" is a philosophical or religious meeting at which anything can, and will, be brought up. A "parterre" is an ornamental garden in which beds and paths form patterns.

Individuals develop their own inner landscapes, an idea that psychoanalysis and current art practices have explored tirelessly. Slippages occur here for the viewer where the familiarity of oneís memory of similar scapes in reality is disputed by what these works present. Trees slide up walls, flowers are the size of large rocks, a smell of plastic permeates, and light comes in colors and from places we know are unnatural. These slippages allow viewers to momentarily believe in what they see.

Installation of:

Nitelite, 2002
cellulose, plastic bowls, LED lighting

Treehouse, 2002
Cellulose, fiber optics, LEDs, plastics 59"x22"x22"

Open Garden, 2000 Porcelain, plastic, fluorescent light 23" tall, tree 13" tall
Installation of:
Gazebo, 2000
Porcelain, plastic, cardboard, wood, LEDs
14" tall

Hypnerotomachia Poliphilo, 2000
Porcelain, insulation foam, cardboard, LEDs, birch, wheels 41"x22"x16"

Below the Salt, 2002
porcelain, lighting, plastics 9"x17"x12"

detail, inside of Hypnerotomachia Poliphilo
detail, Below The Salt
detail, Nitelite, 2002
cellulose, plastic bowls, LED lighting
Installation of Rover, 2002
insulation foam, wood, lighting 60"x72"x21"
Installation of:
Treehouse, 2002
Cellulose, fiber optics, LEDs, plastics 59"x22"x22"

Porcelain, plastic, fiber optics 17" tall