Curated by Jody Zellen
to view works in progress
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drawings without paper
My recent work "drawings without paper" developed out of paintings I began while in graduate school at the California College of Arts and Crafts in San Francisco. In these paintings - like Palimpsest (Pink),1999 - I mapped and parsed poetry, found text and my own thoughts in reticulated forms across the surface of the canvas. The diagramming of language served as a structure for the formal composition of the painting.
While visiting Caracas in 2001, I became familiar with the work of the Venezuelan artist Gego, whose immense body of work includes many sculptures she called "dibujos sin papel," in which she made simple wire constructions that cast shadows on the wall.
Translating this concept to my own work, I began using thin steel wire as a material in which to "draw." For a recent installation at the Brewery Project in Los Angeles, untitled (after Wislawa Szymborska), I used the text of that Polish poetís "Possibilities" as the basis for the piece, twisting the words of the poem in wire ëword bubblesí and then interconnecting them. Each line of "Possibilities" begins with the words, "I prefer" and these became nuclei for the diagramming of the poem. I created an optical illusion by tracing the shadow the sculpture cast directly on to the wall in pencil, then moving the wire (and therefore the shadow) slightly. The effect made the viewer have to discern the different weights of line between wire, shadow, and pencil.
Fundamental to my practice of making art is reading and research. Each piece comes from a poem or text whose meaning compels me to react to it in material form - a recent show in Los Angeles at SolwayJones Gallery included a large-scale "drawing" based on the text "reach" of my collaborator Michael Joyce, a renowned hypertext writer and professor at Vassar College. Through my work I hope to introduce the viewer to a process of reading - not only of my work as an art object or postmodern "text" - but to the writers whose work forms the basis for each piece (Tennyson, Cavafy, Szymborska, for example). Furthermore, by giving words an objecthood and three dimensions, I hope to engage the viewer in a philosophic conversation about the kinetic nature of language, and the physical space it occupies.
Educated at both Swarthmore College in Pennsylvannia and the California College of Art in San Francisco, Alexandra Grant has lived in the Los Angeles area since 2001. Her work has been exhibited at galleries such as the Brewery Project, SolwayJones and Cirrus Gallery. An upcoming solo exhibition at Gallery Sixteen:One in Santa Monica, called "Homecomings," marks the culmination of a decade of work about text and art, identity, language and location. As an artist, curator and writer, Grant has explored ideas of translation, identity, and dis/location not only in drawings, sculptures and painting but also in conversations with other artists and writers, such as poet Wislawa Szymborska and her current collaborator, hypertext writer Michael Joyce. Having grown up in Mexico, France and the United States, and being multi-lingual, she is engaged in investigations of translation not only from language to language, but also from text to image, spoken language to written word, and representations in two dimensions to three dimensional objects. Some of the basic queries that fuel her work are: How do "read" and "write" art? How can the processes of thought be rendered in space? How does language place us?