Walking





 

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