I had a piece juried into the Allentown Museum’s Open Call for Artists. It was a real treat to turn the corner in the museum and see my piece through a room of respectable Impressionist paintings. The piece titled “Evaporation” is 18.5″ sawn disc of raw steel. I cut a series of these discs and then spent about a month experimenting with different formations of rust on their surfaces. Through the process I learned how to make different tones, patterns, and colors of rust through the oxidation process. When the rust reached a point where I had something worth hanging on the wall and looking at I stopped the oxidation. Using two opposing materials, steel and water, the discs become maps to how the evaporation and oxidation processes evolved.
When at the opening in Allentown, I walked past two observers who were debating about whether or not “Evaporation” was a piece of art. One was for it, one against. This was a great thing to covertly witness as the creator. I was delighted to be reminded that not all observers rely on museum curator’s to tell them what art is. It also made me realize, that maybe this piece was more about the art viewing process then the art making process. My mark making process consisted of pouring water on the metal surface, leaving wet rags of different textures until they dried up, and sandwiching water between the discs and the cement floor of my studio. My medium was timing. The making process was more about the decision to stop or rebegin a process which I had limited control over. So as much as I had my hand in facilitating the oxidation, I was going through the same process as these observers in my own studio. This isn’t something new for artists. We have all stood in our studio’s looking at our hard work wondering the same things. Is this art?