Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Claire Watkins

The current "Interface" exhibition in our Bethesda gallery has really been drawing a diverse and constant flow of visitors, including several schools who have come in groups to see the show.

And Claire Watkins amazing magnetism-based kinetic sculptures have really been drawing the "oohs" and "aaahs" from nearly everyone. Watkins is a recent graduate of VCU's highly acclaimed postgraduate sculptural program, ranked number one in the nation (I am told).

Needle sculpture by Claire Watkins The hypnotizing sculpture of the rotating magnet, hanging from a plastic, clear bracket and attracting a set of ever moving, dancing needles has clearly become the star attraction of the exhibit.

To me, the interesting thing about this sculpture is the fact that it will never be the same once de-installed and re-installed in whatever collector's home it ends up in (it's still available for sale by the way). When the sculpture sells, Watkins will have to go to the collector's home and install the work in a chosen area.

I suspect this will be a placement chosen by both artist and buyer, and brings some interesting questions to the whole classification of the piece. For example, a smart thing for the collector to do, is the video the whole installation event, as I found it fascinating to see Watkins weave the installation of the sculpture in the gallery's corner space. It would be particularly interesting to see her re-create that, in a different space (someone's home) once the piece sells.

Claire Watkins wall at Fraser

On the gallery’s main wall, her other three sculptural arrangements hang: two triptychs and a diptych. They are ink and acrylic etchings on a copper plate, floating away from the wall, projected from a plastic armature that hides a small motor. The hidden motor rotates a small magnet, and this magnet, in turn, causes pins and iron filings to dance and move on the surface of the etchings.

Close up of one of Watkins' pieces And the interesting thing that I've noticed over the days since she installed the pieces, is that the metal filings, pins and other metallic objects that dance and move on the surface of the etchings... ah... move! So it seems that the movement is not only driven by the rotating magnet behind it, but also by the ever changing magnetic fields of the Earth itself.

What does this mean? It means that these sculptures are never, ever quite the same at any given second; they're always evolving and changing and moving. One day the filings have climbed atop pins and radiate outwards; a few days later a lonely pin has drifted away from the pack, and so on.

Watkins, who now lives in New York City, is currently speaking with several New York galleries and I am sure that we will continue to hear great things about this talented young artist.

"Interface" runs through February 8, 2006.

1 comment:

Kyi May Kaung said...

Dear Lenny,

In September, I am having a collage show -- at Friendship Heights Village Center.


with Amy Kincaid and Patricia Zannie.

I also paint in oils, acrylics and water colors, paint abstracts, portraits and figures and make monoprints, constructions from found objects and wearable art.

I am originally from Burma.

This is my seventh show in the DC area. I have also had art exhibitions in Ubud, Bali, Chiangmai, Thailand and Helsinki, Finland.

I do hope you can come to the Opening Reception, Sept. 14th, 11.30 AM to 1.30 PM, Friendship Heights Village Center.

We will hang the show on Sept 2 at 11 AM.

Kyi May Kaung