University of Montana School of Art
Gallery of Visual Arts
October 6 - 27, 2011
The "Is it S or Z" exhibition was created specifically for the University of Montana, Missoula, MT. I intentionally illustrate that one can create several works of art while focusing and utilizing one simple material. The works draw on references from primitive societies around the world, highlighting the simplicity of object making. Most primitive societies have limited material selection provided either by location or by trade.
When I began working on this project I concentrated on the Montana idiom of the American Plains native and cowboy. The American native made objects for both ritual and utility while the American cowboy used rope for utilitarian purposes only. My approach to the exhibition was to imbue one with the other. The sculptures illustrate rope as a tool overlaid with a surface rich in texture and color resonating the ritual.
The rope was handled in two ways: either in its original state or by unwinding or fraying it. Surfaces were added to create a suggestion of object for ritual. When the rope is deconstructed the object is softened and becomes less rope-like and hence, more object-like. In its original state, the viewer can see and feel the strength of the rope, sensing how it might be used.
The title comes from two different types of "laid rope", also called "twisted rope". These two methods of rope making are the prevalent forms of rope making, at least in western history. Common twisted rope, generally consists of three strands and is normally right-laid, or given a final right-handed twist. The two standard appellations are uppercase letters S and Z to indicate the two possible directions of twist, as suggested by the direction of slant of the central portions of these two letters. The handedness of the twist is the direction of the twists as they progress away from an observer. Thus Z-twist rope is said to be right-handed and S-twist to be left-handed. The title of the exhibition alludes to both the directness of the material and the abstract nature of its interpretation.