KAY WHITNEY


My work is based on an interest in architecture and in the notion of shelter; within these categories, I’m particularly drawn to nomadic and intuitive forms of construction. With these interests as a base, my work displays an oblique abstract narrative through combining contradictory ideas about objects and buildings. I’m attracted to the analog, the physical manipulation of materials. My eye is on the sensuous surface of things, something I achieve through extremely labor-intensive means. My sculpture and works on paper represent an accumulation of repeated actions mirroring the passage of time. My sculptures rely on techniques such as sewing and the use of textiles; I work methodically and lyrically between the fields of fine arts and design.

The sculptural materials I use (grommets, industrial felt, plywood, steel, hardware, aircraft cable) mimic the biomorphic and create objects that are synthetic and pseudo-organic. There is no transcendence of material – all elements tread the line between being only what they are and being something more. I use felt and plywood because they are manufactured materials that mimic the natural.

Although the outcome is the absolute opposite, my preliminary set-up is regimented, involving exacting measurements and counting. I proceed to work against my own systems so that the final object shows both choice and counter-choice. These selections appear intuitive but are carefully planned, measured out and involve a fixed repertoire of actions. These involve a set of contrasts (soft/ hard, smooth/rough, color and anti-color) and a set of conditions (parts, piled, pieces, stacks, identical, interchangeable).The final stages are the result of several fabrication methods - wrapping, suspending, hanging, alterations of width and hanging devices (grommets, cable steel brackets and upholstery screws).

My work on paper uses advertising images in combination with Chartpak tape – a kind of vinyl tape used for architectural renderings. My process is structured by my interest in construction drawings, aerial views and mapping techniques. Because the advertising images are somewhat obscured and distorted by the accumulations of tape, these works on paper deny the conventional viewing of advertising images replacing the experience with obscured and transitory views.

My objects are grounded in several conceptual arenas from various time periods; mid-century modernist architecture, furniture and design. The modernist forms that most interest me are those of Isamu Noguchi, Danish Modern designers, and Charles and Ray Eames. I am drawn to their biomorphic forms, use of wood and their investment in the tenets of modernism. To me they are a source of humor which is expressed in my own work through the wackiness of the shapes and they way they meet the wall, floor or ceiling. My processes are obsessive and repetitive; my methods are derived from the work of anti-form conceptualist sculptors. Like them, I’m interested in the edges of systems, the threshold areas where things break down and accidents happen, where an object is in a state of flux.