I am not alone in Foundations which is a reassuring fact to remember in the midst of the confusion and antics that make up the young artist’s life. Today we look into the work of a fellow artist, John.
John’s area of research was Ade Dinning Hall here at Alfred University. I personally got the chance to observe him as he researched this space on many occasions, as I put up with him during my meals. From my experience conversing with John I noticed that he always seemed interested in food and the consumption of it. This lead me to expect that he would keep this focus in mind while he started work on his installation presented today. To my surprise this was not the case at all; John’s installation was a part of Ade but in no way a food .
In my initial review of John’s work I honestly glanced over it at first. I was instead drawn to the colors of other parts in his group’s installation, such as Andrew’s soda fountain and Maggie’s floating cereal. However, as I began to explore the space I began to appreciate the conceptual and literal aspects of his work.
John chose to recreate the dessert stand at Ade Dinning Hall, minus the deserts. On a physical level his piece contributed to the setting of his group’s installation as a whole by providing a logical beginning for the journey of food on its pathway through the Ade experience. It also brought out the idea of original materials and how their meaning can be altered or effected by the new materials the artists chooses to replicate them with. In this instance John used cardboard in order to portray the industrial metal of the display’s walls and plastic wrap to replace the glass of the case. To me this brought a level of handmade interaction to an industrially mass produced object that lacked all trace of craft. The cardboard and it’s imperfect strength and semi-rigid qualities changed the viewer’s perception on an originally stable structure to one that is more personal or problematic.
I was most intrigued by the lack of actual food in John’s piece. Was it because of a time restriction that John did not include items, or was it intentional? This question baffled myself and I had to hear from John himself but for viewers without that luxury it adds a sense of ambiguity to the piece towards what it really means as a whole.
In my interview with John I gleaned a lot of information not only on his process but also the story of his research and his intentions for his piece. In regards to his inspiration he reported that it was “mundane objects” that he was intrigued with and how, when sculpted in their conventional forms, they encouraged the viewer to look further into their potential and meaning. While constructing this piece he first used cardboard because he was familiar with it but later found its characteristics helped to implement the very characteristics I noticed in my own assessment of the piece. John loved how the lack of detail on the surface portrayed the gestural identity of the dessert stand. On regards to the lack of food, John reported that by omitting it the stand was taken out of its normal context and could therefore be better defined as an individual object by the viewer.
Overall, John says his piece is about taking time to investigate the everyday objects around us in a new light. By slowing down as a viewer and investigator we can learn so much more about our surroundings. With his piece we are certainly invited to look into the simplicity and integrity of an object we all look over every day as students here at Alfred University. Kudos to you John, for making such an interesting piece.