confluence: conбfluбence \ˈkКn-ˌflü-ən(t)s
1. The junction where two rivers meet
2. The act or process of merging
During the creation of this body of work, I thought a lot about confluence. The meeting and joining of previously separate ideas, lives, people.
My intention with this exhibition is also to bring some of the studio and the visual process of making into the gallery; to bridge the gap between the great dual ‘rivers’ of art-making and art-viewing, the artist creating work and the viewer creating meaning. When I sculpt, I often work on multiple figures at once. Several pieces at various stages of completion are side by side on the workbench. Sometimes these turn out to be solitary figures, and sometimes they develop in more direct relation to one another.
The three groups/pairs of figures, displayed centrally on the wooden sculpture stands, are examples of how I experience the pieces together as I am building them in the studio. They continue to have potential for variation and improvisation in their placement after being so-called ‘completed.’ Each modification reveals unique compositional elements, particularly negative space, conversation between forms and ensuing narrative. Their changeable juxtapositions allow for a continuation of the spontaneity that has its beginnings in the wet clay itself. In this way, the creative process can continue within the gallery, which can be seen as another convergence, a meeting place, or confluence.
The Figure and Ground series of wall works are also compositionally fluid. The large glazed tiles can serve as grounds for smaller figures. The interplay between form and surface is expanded. Simultaneously, large canvas drawings of the sculptures were produced as concurrent and reflective daily studio activity. My drawing practice is cyclical, both documenting and fueling the genesis of new work.
The cumulative work of an artist can be thought of as a lifelong river of experience, work made in reaction to that experience, and exhibitions attempting to reflect those tributaries. Points of confluence carve new curves into the landscape, change the course of the waterway, and add unexpected streams carried from far afield. Perhaps this is why they say one can never step into the same river twice.
Michelle Gregor, 2018