Art History II: Second Gallery Write Up

On April 10th Alfred University opened a new Art Gallery, Abject Architect: Landscape Survey 1. The art in the gallery was made by Lea McCormick Griggs. The gallery consists of several large sculptures. Each of these was made of wood across the floor and several static objects put together. In many ways, it would be more accurate to describe Griggs’ work as a collection of objects rather than a sculpture. At times it was hard to tell where one sculpture ends and where another one begins. There were also some pictures up on the wall of objects. The images were put up in pairs, a left image would be a normal picture of the object, and the one on the left that would be a black and white version.


The word Abject has two meanings, “experienced or present to the maximum degree,” or “without pride or dignity,” both definitions would be a fitting way to describe some of the sculptures Griggs’ created. In regard to the first definition, the large sculptures he created were never confined to one area or clearly defined where they end. There would be pieces of wood on the floor jutting out from the rest of the sculpture. They refused to be defined by conventional means and in a sense, could be considered present to the maximum degree. As for the second definition, that can be seen in the large black sculpture in the gallery. As part of the sculpture there is the upper body of a woman, completely nude. In another sculpture, there is a mannequin of a woman again completely nude. Both sculptures could be defined as without dignity because of those elements.


One piece that I found particularly noteworthy was the tableware on the floor. The entire sculpture consisted of teacups, bowls, plates, and salt shakers. They were all pushed against the wall and stacked on top of each other. The interesting thing about this sculpture is that normally objects like this stacked is done haphazardly to be cleaned later, nothing in the sculpture gave off that kind of vibe, it was messy but it was an organized chaos kind of messy that makes you take a second look at it.


While speaking Griggs stated that one part of his artwork he likes to experiment with is the idea of ownership. In the entire gallery, not a single piece was labeled.  This is one aspect of his artwork that I do not think was effectively implemented. Without any labels people are more confused than anything, there’s nothing to really make people think about the idea of ownership, and I hadn’t even considered it until he mentioned it while talking. It could be said that Griggs’ work fits into the historical precedence of the postmodern movement. While his work has purpose behind how it was made, all parts of his sculptures are arranged in specific and interesting ways, there is no real defining meaning behind the work that he has created. Any kind of meaning would have to be derived from the viewer which is what the postmodern movement is about.

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