In the last few months of adjusting to the pandemic, I’ve focused on work that has developed from an intergenerational dialogue with Mary Miss that I began two years ago. Talking with Miss in her studio inspires me to steward some of the seeds that she planted as a sculptor in the 70s. In a call to redefine public sculpture in the early 80s, Miss asserts, “Give the people the luxury of engagement and not confrontation.” Her focus on engaging the viewer to heighten an awareness of natural resources is essential. We all can relate to engagement as a luxury right now and that our natural resources must also include a change towards equality and racial justice- a call that we hear in our streets right now.
Miss’ early sculptures have inspired me to get out of the studio and work directly on site. I have been focused on one sculpture in particular, Portable Window, that Miss made in 1968. My adaptations create a family tree of sculptures reimagined from her original. The sculpture is essentially a big wheel, with handles and a rectangle window that frames a view. Miss prioritized an unscripted experience for artist and viewer to engage in our surroundings that emphasizes being on site, reframing a view, and collaborating with community. I am guided by Miss’ words: “Priorities: Breathing space, human scale, and first hand experience.” Sculpture has the ability to give back and empower these fundamental rights.
Giving Portable Window a revived legacy steers my work as a sculptor into the public realm. While our digital culture has made it incredibly easy to frame and take pictures without restraint, Portable Window slows down and makes framing our surroundings a more physical act in sync with our bodies. Incrementally jumpstarting ways to interact and frame our surroundings with the public emphasizes an open exchange to learn and listen from our present condition which is in a state of crisis. I’m tuning into opportunities to create happenings locally, and compelled in particular to engage elderly communities. Sculpture has agency both to heal and engage our collective body.