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New Transformations in the Abstract

June 14, 2021

Many of you know that I live in a 200-year-old barn. With that comes an appreciation for repurposed and reused materials. Perhaps you didn’t know that that same appreciation is at the heart of my abstract photography. Look Studio originated, at least partially, from the desire to honor and celebrate the humble craftsperson and his or her work, whether an old painted bench, Suspended, or a metal step stool, Still Life

(Left: Suspended, © 2011 Look Studio, Subject: Painted wood bench | Right: Still Life, © 2012 Look Studio, Subject: Metal step stool)

I look at every modest object with an interested eye and find value in repurposing these often utilitarian items into thought provoking artwork through abstract representation.

When I saw John Chamberlain’s exhibit at the Guggenheim Museum in New York many years ago, his use of old automobile parts to create massive, artistic sculptures made a significant impression on me.  At that time especially, people thought ruined car parts belonged at the junk yard. Chamberlain, though, had a vision. He transformed those auto scraps into impressive works of art.

(Photo credit: Art in New York City (left); Rosenbaum Contemporary (right))

Somewhere in the back of my mind his reinterpretation of the obvious into the extraordinary was one more catalyst that fueled my own, similar ideas.

(Photo credit: afasiaarq)

Chamberlain’s sculptures fascinate because they convey the strength and malleability of metal while capturing the viewer’s senses with bold palettes and cool shiny surfaces. These and other characteristics that can be elicited from metal are what drew me to the old Shell station sign I photographed to create Crossroads.  

(Left: Old Shell station sign; Right: Crossroads, © 2021 Look Studio)

Looking through my camera viewfinder, I was immediately drawn to the silver steel shining out from under a weather-beaten surface and fragmented paint. The intersection of lines exploded as my focal point and this tired, rusty sign found new life and meaning as abstract art.
Circling back to the Guggenheim, if you are in New York, it is a must! I am a big fan of Frank Lloyd Wright’s architecture and the grand, yet intimate space of the museum provides a wonderful setting to experience and contemplate art. Having the opportunity to view art in such a venue so easily creates lasting experiences and memories. Chamberlain’s work is just one of many memories of exhibits I’ve enjoyed at museums throughout my life.  

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