A Sense of Being Inhabited
Recently installed in the courtyard of Albuquerque’s Open Space Visitors Center, Earth Tongues could be said to fall into the category of statuary. Common availability of statuary today is usually of a representational figure – many, many, many copies cast in concrete, derivative of some idea of the antiquities meant to be displayed outside on the grounds of a property. The persistent reference to the classics seems to be an attempt to enhance the property owner’s prestige. The adherence to safe and recognizable imagery is the vehicle to satisfy this need for validation.
Earth Tongues differs in almost all ways, and yet remains statuary. They are unique, that is to say, one of a kind, not cast multiples (indeed, they would be very difficult to cast). They are not representational or derivative. They do not aspire to be cute, whimsical, or clever. There is no narrative and no attempt to tell the viewer what to think. Stripped of these usual crutches, what is the viewer left to hold on to? Only form, pattern, marks, textures are present to contemplate.
Without pedestals, Earth Tongues stands on the same ground as the viewer and is personable in scale. These two factors create an informal relationship with the viewer, a tableaux vivant experience. The forms are monomorphic (a form desired by clay). They are deeply textured to interact with the shifting light of the sun’s transit. Areas emerge and recede, contributing to a sense of being inhabited. In keeping with the Open Space Visitors Center’s ethos, they can be discovered and contemplated.
By Sara D’Alessandro