Furniture Work and Projects
I think in furniture. For fifteen years I have had an alternative practice where I develop narratives based on history, place and biography and invented a new world of material culture for the subjects of my research. The medium that I have used is â€œfurnitureâ€?, which is a smaller and more direct vehicle for ideas than buildings. These pieces are deeper explorations than the typical design practice. Designing a piece of furniture for people or place I admire has yielded a more intrinsic understanding of the person or the place described.
Extensive reading about the life of Virginia Woolf preceded the development of this series. I was fascinated by how her relationships with her family and friend/lovers seemed to have no hierarchy. No one loved more than the other, no one worked harder in the relationship; and sometimes there was equal amounts of tension. The piece developed into the form of the loveseat which was used to illustrate the conversation about the potential of lack of hierarchy in the built world. The love seat is designed as an equal or balanced condition but the function is specific to the relationship. For example the Loveseat for Vanessa Bell and Virginia is a love seat for two brilliant sisters; the piece has multiple directions depending on who is leading the charge in life at that time.
Loveseats for Virginia Woolf
I was interested the contention-put forward by the feminist author Carol Gilligan- that the biography was a limited form to document the life of a woman. At the beginning of this project one could go to library and see that the biography of Susan B. Anthony was markedly slimmer than that of Harry Truman. Was this because her life and accomplishments were slimmer, of course not? Therefore, I began to investigate the potential of a piece of furniture as a more vivid illustration of a womanâ€™s life. These particular pieces are all gestures of function; each piece is a piece that the woman would possibly need to further her work, rather than a motif of her life.
The poems of Maxine Kumin inspired this series of drawings. Kuminâ€™s work is biographical and is steeped in the normal and every day. I particularly respond to her work about being a mother, she speaks of a time when the children are grown and the task is to understand the complicated person that is in your life as well as understanding yourself. The furniture for this series seemed to develop more to â€œfurniture placesâ€? and seeks to respond to the gesture of the poem.
This final series of chairs was instigated by the insight that there are so many lonely chairs in junk shops and on the side of the road. At the same time I was looking at the work of Walker Evans and admired his ability to take the everyday and draw out the most surrealistic quality in the frame. Therefore I asked myself, â€œIf Walker Evans was in need of a chair how would he make one?â€? The rescued chairs all needed a repair of some kind so I made the repair with another found object. Part two of the Walker Evans chairs is derived from pure invention: If Walker Evans and Louise Nevelson fell in love and drove down south to spend a year, they would make chairs like this for their garden party. They would never be compatible in the traditional sense of the word, but they could throw a good bash.
Walker Evans Builds a Chair
1. Bedcover 1 - Places I’ve been (Mississippi map bedspread) 2. Bedcover 2 - The Map to Waverly Plantation, as Told by a Modernist 3. Chair Group - Walker Evans Builds a Chair: four chairs built in the conceit of Walker Evans 4. Wing Chair-Mapping Rowan Oak again... (William Faulkner House chair) 5. Yellow Chair-The Advent of Mrs. Welty Garden 6. Loveseat - Marie Antoinette’s Gardens at Le Petit Trianon This work was installed in the Third Annual “One Night Stand” exhibition at the Ole Miss Motel, in Oxford, Mississippi.
Walker Evans chairs Waverly Plantation bedspread Mississippi map bedspread William Faulkner House chair Le Petit Trianon loveseat
Six Attributes of Mapping