Bridge 12

Enough of the teasing, Melissa finally explains the Bridge 12 show in Pittsburgh.

Melissa Cameron, Flexoplast – After Elizabeth Turrell, 2012. Recycled painted mild steel, plastic beads (in the container when purchased), mild steel, stainless steel. Photo © Melissa Cameron.

As I have perhaps alluded to earlier, the Bridge 12 exhibition opened a couple of weeks ago at the Society for Contemporary Craft (SCC) in Pittsburgh. But what is it?

The Bridge are a series of exhibitions that showcase the works of three artists, by presenting three one-person exhibits simultaneously. They have been happening at the SCC for some time, so don’t let the coincidence of the Bridge 12 show happening in 2012 confuse you – the exhibition has run, biennially, eleven times before this year.

As it was explained to me by Kate Lydon, the curator, these are;

“one-person exhibitions that focus on contemporary artists’ ideas and their materials and follow the artists’ individual creative journeys as expressed through a body of their work. Artists who have been featured in the biennial Bridge Exhibition Series over the past 22 years include Tom Loeser and Stephen Whittlesey (wood), Dana Zamecnikova (glass), Mariko Kusumoto, Lisa Gralnick, Arthur Hash and Bruce Metcalf (small metals), Lia Cook and John Garrett (fiber), Robert Briscoe and Sergei Isupov (clay) and Kiff Slemmons (found materials) among many others.”

As in every year, the artists are from different fields. This year features myself along with Kevin Snipes, a ceramicist and textile artist Betty Vera. (An in-depth interview with Vera also features on the SCC blog.)

At this stage, having not yet seen the show (I missed the opening owing to other commitments taking me to Australia) all I can tell you about is what I have sent to go on display. A selection of my recycled object pieces, jewellery and altered objects that were made from 2009 right up until just a few weeks ago in 2012 are the main focus of my section of the exhibition. Separate to this there is a collection of supporting materials arranged together in a large, room-dividing case, whose inclusion is intended to go some way towards explaining my working process.

The ‘process explanation’ materials are there to illustrate how the works on the main exhibition floor came into being. Just over twenty objects are collected in this area, each of them purchased (or occasionally gifted to me) second-hand, over the last few years, with the intent that it would be used as the material for a new artwork. Not to put too fine a point on it, each piece was acquired because of how I envisioned it would behave once sliced up.

These objects were sometimes bought with a purpose in mind, but more often they were not. (The ones that were bought for a particular project have generally succumbed already.) Often they were the ones that stood out as having a lot of potential despite my mission to acquire a quite different piece. And because I tend to travel a bit, I have become fascinated by the availability of different pieces, (or ‘materials’ as I see them) in different places, so I now collect them along the way. In all cases the pieces now on display are objects that I haven’t quite got to yet. They are waiting for the right moment for me to study them some more, draw them a pattern and to begin their decon/recon/struction.

The second section of the support materials in the display case came about so I could illustrate the patterns that I draw for every work that I make. I have produced a 3′ x 8′ – 91 x 244 cm drawing, a sort of wallpaper, if you will, which contains almost every plan for every work (and a few that never made it out of the computer, or alternately, off the bench) that I have made since 2008. I produce all of my drawings using AutoCad, amassing them on a single virtual page so that I can pan across them and borrow forms from, or check dimensions of all my past works as I create new patterns. Thus the wallpaper is a print-out of my virtual brain. A brain dump! But arranged thoughtfully, of course. Using these many small elements the wallpaper has been planned as a larger pattern, and when multiplied it forms a repeat pattern to be wall-papered across the back of my ‘source case’ (an 8′ x 8′ x 4′ glass-fronted piece of joinery) several times over.

Also as a part of the exhibition each artist has a modest four-page catalogue with images and essay to accompany their works. The essay on my work, ‘Building on Ornamental History’ was written by Marilyn Zapf, formerly the Editor-in-Chief of the respected Unmaking Things blog. It is accompanied by several photos of the works and an abbreviated CV. I’ll hopefully be able to publish the full document up here soon.

What else is there left to say? I hope that if you are in Pittsburgh between now and March 30th 2013 that you will get to the Society for Contemporary Craft gallery at 2100 Smallman St post haste and let me know what you think of the show!

And for while you’re there I have created a jewellery related Drop-In activity as well as made available several sheets of my drawings for you and perhaps your friends/children to colour in.  And don’t forget that I’m teaching a class there in March! There will be more info on all of these projects here soon.