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Inside Out: Revelation


Last Sunday I had some friends over to my studio to pick out a wedding present. I pulled out work from all different eras, and tried to stay generally out of their way (a delicate kind of decision-making for newlyweds). I rediscovered some work that while not entirely forgotten, has felt less relevant lately. To my delight, just sharing it with my visitors made me see it freshly and revisit the principles behind it.

The project they lit upon is Three Variables. The work looks like this.

It's made from found card stock wrapped with materials from earlier installations. The three variables are 1) how many cards in the stack, 2) how many wraps around the stack, and 3) the number of types of materials wrapped. Here are the first two titles of the four shown here:

Miles to Ikea X Plastic cups on the floor of my car X Emails with cousin Dylan.


Time alone in hours X Seeds planted X Cups of tea brewed with same teabag.

When I made the work in 2005 for a show at Judy Goldman Fine Art, I was particularly absorbed in making a repeating event correspond with some action taken with materials.

I was surprised that the concept is still very strong in my work seven years later in new forms that are simpler and more participatory. I saw some decay in the more experimental pieces from '05 (rubberbands! oy), but also how fresh these pieces still feel overall.

What I am not interested in from that earlier work is how numbers-heavy it turned out to be, and how conceptually dense. I still like the titles and their poetic nature, but it was a huge pain in the butt to accurately deploy the titling system. It's even too exhausting to explain. Since 2005 I've put a lot of effort into making projects easy to grasp through well-designed wayfinding labels and titles. Who gets it and how readily, marks the success of a piece more than almost anything else for me these days.

My new interest in this older work lies in the somewhat figurative nature of these discreet wall sculptures, the decay of certain elements, and the 'held together' aspect. Because of this neighborly visit, I am revisiting these themes for a Boston show I'm arranging for the summer of 2014.

Here's the very first of this type of piece that I made - untitled. It's been hanging around for a while, and feels more figurative than the rest.

And here is the piece they chose!

It's titled:
'Mornings slept in X Meetings Attended X Calls I've opted not to take'

The dimensions of these pieces ranged from 5 x 6 x 3" to 3 x 4 x 3" with a few not shown at 9 x 11 x 2.5" and materials were card stock, string, rubber, plastic, and wall fasteners on the back. See project page here.

The projects preceding these two included Visual Traces of Groups at Work at Babson College, where stuff was wrapped on table and chair legs and door handles, and another outdoor wrapping project.

About Author

Hannah Burr is our November-December Inside Out artist-in-residence.

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