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"MATERIAL CONCERNS"

February 10 - April 14, 2002 at the University of Judaism, West Los Angeles

by Suvan Geer




Barbara Drucker, “Material Evidence,”
braided wool, 2001.








Maddy Le Mel, "Untitled,"
mixed media, 2001.

The sculptural work of artists Barbara Drucker, Maddy Le Mel, Ann Page and Carrie Ungerman are correlated by at least two fundamental intentions. These sculptors all share an avocation for working with the intuitive value of art-making, placing much of the work's meaning in the realm of the ineffable or anti-literal. They also share a proclivity for making tangible things, which are often bound, sewn or threaded.

It could seem natural, given that these four artists are also women, to ascribe this technical aspect of the work to an intentional theoretical reference to historically constructed "woman's work," a formulation that has been utilized by many contemporary artists. From what I can see in their work, however, it is more related to the question of time. It is one way to create a visual and physical sedimentation of working layers (which they all seem attracted to), and this structure seems in turn designed to encourage the viewer to slow down their perceptual consumption. Process and concept are yoked here in the deliberate manner in which a project is intitated and brought to a temporal conclusion. Rather than over-determine why a given set of coordinates or procedures is selected, their desired sets of actions are drawn out over an interval of time and left for the viewer to observe and ponder. Inert and yet ignited by a viewer's gaze, these materials are brought to life through the viewer's curiosity and desire.

Drucker's Material Evidence is a spool of braided wool, and like her other work done with hair, fabric and paper, it plays with momentarily arranging the ephemeral. Like a sketchpad doodle or the elaborate game made of twisting a circular length of twine between the thumb and the forefinger, the intention is not the achieve monumental proportion but rather temporal absorption. Time is passing while the maker wistfully gathers fragments of its passage.


Maddy Le Mel's mixed media and Untitled works are hybrid shapes caught between the combined forms of fragile kites and distressed fans or parasols. Their appearance of being in a state of disintegration is offset by the obvious care with which the delicate paper is overlaid and inscribed with wire and threads, then covered with printed images and text. Her whimsical arrangements of paper in space are tinged with melancholy. The stream of consciousness history she relays parallels the multiple readings found in vernacular and personal storytelling.

At first glance, Green Snake could be taken for an odd lamp or maybe some scale model for an unknown funeral vase; at second glance, neither visual inference seems quite right. Ann Page's objects are often the source of this kind of perplexity. Embedded in elaborate procedural rituals, the rules which govern her creative choices are often hidden from the viewer and thus force us to look attentively at the object for its sense. The slightly unnerving aspects of this perceptual quandary are ever mitigated by the presence of a solid mathematical core.

The multi-colored drops of liquid light with which Carrie Ungerman fashions Rain Drops and other of her ethereal sculptures are free form modules filling space with glisten and glimmer. The play of light and color toys with randomness and coincidence, altering your experience of the work via changes in location and density. The sense of partaking in the order of abstraction derived from nature, or of an order that is altogether artificial also varies in each of the artist's specific site applications.

There is a poetry in space found in this convincing and elegant collective effort that balances against the uniqueness of individual vision. The common thread underscores a physical and emotional apprehension of art that does not preempt but sits alongside the conceptual.



Ann Page, "Green Snake,"
mixed media, 2001.







Carrie Ungerman, "Rain Drops,"
mixed media sculpture, 2001.