Artist weaves plastic bags, fencing into sculptures on exhibit at CornellJanuary 9, 2006
MOUNT VERNON — A Fairfield artist has turned ordinary household objects and old industrial supplies – including dish scrubbers, disposable plastic bags and rabbit fencing – into sculptures inspired by the relationship between the human figure and landforms.
The art is featured in “Judy Bales: Counterpoint,” an exhibition of fiber work by Bales showing Jan. 15 through Feb. 13 at the Peter Paul Luce Gallery in McWethy Hall at Cornell College.
An opening reception is Sunday, Jan. 15, from 2 to 4 p.m. Bales will lecture on her work Monday, Feb. 13, at 7 p.m. in Room 222a of McWethy Hall. Admission is free to the lecture, opening reception and gallery exhibition.
“The relationship between nature and industry is at the core of my work,” says Bales, a former elementary school art teacher who creates sculptural installations from mixed media and sculptures for the body such as hats and dresses. “It’s amazing to me how industrial materials can look so natural. It alludes to the reclaiming by nature of manmade materials.”
The exhibition includes photos of models wearing her hats, form-fitting creations covering their heads like vegetation blanketing a hillside.
The rural Georgia schools where Bales worked in the 1970s didn’t have a lot of money for supplies, so she had to find materials. That, plus the creativity of her young students and a fibers class she took for her teacher recertification, she says, pointed her toward fibers and mixed media. A fan of hardware stores, Bales favors weaving with wire and other non-traditional materials: plastic bags woven on a wire frame, Brillo pads painted and stitched together.
Bales’ latest canvas is the pedestrian bridge. In two public art projects she designed elements to visually soften the rigid bridges. The Maryland Avenue Bridge in Phoenix, a bicycle and pedestrian bridge crossing an interstate, features colorful steel bands that weave in and out of the trusses, adding a sense of movement to the bridge’s stability. Fairfield’s BNSF Railroad Trail Bridge includes a steel cage inspired by barn structures in the local environment, a nod to the rural history of the community besides being a contemporary and elegant structure.
Gallery hours are 9 a.m. to 4 p.m. Monday through Friday and 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday.
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