My work has to do with making in relation to seeing
and conversing with the world; with issues of perception, how and
what we see as we seek to understand the workings of the world. I
explore how we experience place and person by amplifying and intensifying
ordinary phenomena, things there for everyone to see, but so woven
into the fabric of the everyday that they are not usually noticed.
I create places and situations for contemplation, for humans to gather,
listen and observe. They invite us to slow down and allow us to increase
our sensory perception. My work seeks to encourage an aware state
of being. I think of Rachel Carson and her great influence on our
thinking about the ways we understand the substances we use in our
relation to the environment we inhabit. I paraphrase her words here
— If we can only take time to see the beauty in our world, perhaps
we will be less disposed to destroy it. To this end I seek a cultivation
of the gentle and the simple— walking, digging, seeing, hearing,
feeling, and putting parts together. My work supports the effort
of understanding how things interconnect to make the world work by
slowing pace enough to make sense of complexity. I want to transform
simple natural occurrences into things mysteriously intriguing enough
to inspire others to find their own sense of wonder all around themselves
and at any time.
For over two decades my primary work has been site-specific sculpture. Although
I work primarily in sculpture, I also make drawings, prints, photographs and
video. My work is based on a complex web of information I gather through research,
site visits, walking the landscape or urbanscape, collecting materials, discussion
with community members and my own visual response to site and context. I am involved
in the visual interpretation of context through a kind of deep mapping. My definition
of site includes historical, cultural and political features, as well as the
physical characteristics of a place. Many works are galvanized by consideration
of the environmental plight of the site in question. I am interested in a relationship
between the cultural and natural worlds that includes the earth, the body as
a sensing being, language, and the artist's potential to construct meaning through
a process of participating with and within these systems.
I have had a continuing involvement in making work that undergoes, or alludes to, physical change as an echo of the constant flux of the world and its processes; that relates to human memory, history and action; and is informed by a cultural and political consciousness. I meld forms and materials with memory; process with product; accident with intentionality; and playfulness with seriousness. My interest in forms and materials as carriers of meaning has led me to construct several installations guided by questions such as these: what are the metaphorical possibilities for a particular form or group of forms? where did a material originate? what composes it and what meaning attaches to it?
I seek to construct my work through intense and meaningful processes in much
the same manner as we are all laboring to form our lives into sites of significance
and value. Paul Valery notes that "When nature wishes to turn out a hard article
of set shape, a support, a lever, a brace, an armor plate; or when it aims to
produce a tree trunk, a femur, a tooth or a tusk, a skull or a sea shell, it
works in the same indirect way: it takes the liquids or fluids from which all
organic matter is made, and slowly separates out the solid substances it needs."
My process, too, is to slowly separate out the things I need to form my work
within the multi-layered context of the world.
Karen McCoy, Kansas City, Missouri, November 2010