Saturday, October 8, 2016

Channeling Other Artists: Andy Goldsworthy

When I teach, I try to listen to the students and see what kind of work they are interested in, then give them some online links to artists that might resonate with them. Recently, I thought one student might be interested in Land Art, so I looked up some of the particular artists, which took me down my own path. I've always been a fan of Andy Goldsworthy's work. There are a few of his installations in the SF Bay Area I have seen and photographed.

"Spire" is one of several at the Presidio. The park website says "aging Monterey cypress are now reaching the end of their life" and needed to be cut down and new ones planted. Goldsworthy selected from the felled trees to create this 100-foot-tall work. (2008)



"Stone River" at Stanford University. According to the Stanford website, it is made "of sandstone from university buildings destroyed in the 1906 and 1989 earthquakes." (2001)


And "Drawn Stone" at the de Young Museum in Golden Gate Park. The website says this "faux fault line…was inspired by the unique character of California's tectonic topography." (2005)



I was sitting at the picnic table, staring at the fallen leaves from our Silver Dollar Gum Eucalyptus tree, wondering just what causes an evergreen tree to shed, when the different leaf colors from the same tree struck me. I started collecting them, sorting them, very much aware I was channeling Andy Goldsworthy and a work I had only seen in a photograph. 

He takes hours to complete his works. I took minutes arranging them in concentric circles by color. The process was delightful. As I worked I noticed myself calling the leaves "dark brown" and "pink" and "pinkish green." Pink leaves? I hadn't thought about that before. 

Perhaps a mashup of or homage to Goldsworthy and Judy Chicago? My "Leaf-Rose."



In one of my first art classes in college, "Form in Color," I had to choose an artist's work and copy it exactly. I chose Georgia O'Keeffe and painted in acrylics on paper what she had painted in oils on canvas. It was really hard, very frustrating to get it right, but in the end, I appreciated the process and learned a new technique for blending colors. 

Working with the leaves in my backyard gave me a new perspective, inspiration, and perhaps a new technique. The colors remind me of skin. Perhaps some leafy hands, both human and alien, are next.

Addendum (the next morning, 10.9.16).