Thesis

Sky curtain : an environment

My purpose is to create a curtain showing the changing nature of clouds and sky. By enveloping the viewer in luminous veils of color, I hope to evoke a separate moment of time and emotion that will be an expression of the sublime. I would define the sublime as the transformation and exaggeration of natural phenomenon within a contemporary romantic context. Influenced by the works of Joseph Mallord Turner, Caspar David Friedrich and Mark Rothko, I am particularly interested in their diffusion of space, light and color. My concept of this art work as an environment involved isolating a space 28 feet by 22 feet and transforming this space into a unified whole with related contiguous compositions. Starting with primed canvas and oil paint, work progressed toward the goal of creating light and atmospheric effects. After discarding heavy canvas, oil paint and cloud forms, I then experimented with painting on fine linen fabric acrylics and then with various rayon and polyester fabrics. Twenty-six panels of polyester lining fabric, measuring 96 inches in height and 45 inches in width, were used. This fabric was chosen after considerable experimentation because of its transparency and fragile weightless feeling. A wood grain surface under the fabric was used to obtain unique process effects. The acrylic washes, gravity and drying time combine to give random patterns and spontaneity to the panels. The first step of the installation was to staple the panels on one inch dowels that were cut exactly the width of the material. Holes were drilled into each end of the dowel and the fabric was draped over the dowel to float freely with an air space between the wall and the panels. The dowels were supported by two and two-and-a-half inch finishing nails driven into the wall at right angles. The light source was evenly spaced flood lights from above the work. The play of the air blowing through the vents caused the curtain to float gently and added an extra dimension to the work. Essential to this abstract notation of atmospheric elements is an impressionistic time sense and the use of colors ranging from the soft opalescent tones of dawn to the brighter colors of midday and on through the soft blues of evening. A waxed floor reflects the colors of the curtain, as in nature the smooth surface of a lake reflects the sky. The infinite structure of atmosphere, space beyond space, layer behind layer, all constantly changing, and creating luminous environs exerts significant influence upon my concept of painting. In my work, the intensity of natural phenomenon reflects the extremes of human emotion.

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