I believe, it’s quite cliché in the art world to mention Alexander Calder when talking about mobiles, but it really was his work that got me hooked. Just to brag: I was still a young architect visiting MoMa in New York. I was struck by one of his works, hanging quite high in a large room. Of course I loved the balancing act, the ostensible simplicity of it, but most of all the shadows it was casting on the wall and the floor. The spotlight on the mobile created a new artwork. It has stayed with me for years. (also the absurd amount of pictures I took, make it hard to forget).
I was struck by fear of failure
Glass has amazing potential for installations and mobiles and the casting of colorful shadows. However for a long time, I never dared to take the step. I was struck by fear of failure. I am too messy and chaotic to make something as perfect and balanced as Calder. How could I make a construction that was easy enough to transport and hang? Who would be interested? The past years I have slowly started to integrate mobile elements into my Forgotten Foremother portraits. When I had three last portraits to make, I decided that I needed to take a risk and go for it.
There are many ways to tell a story
I have a “mental obsession” with women’s history and a “visual obsession” with glass and it's possibilities to project and refract light. I wish to find a way to combine both my fascinations. This might be a stupid and overly complicated desire. Maybe glass isn't the right medium to tell this story. But as an architect I have learned that form doesn't always follow function. There are many ways to tell a story and each way offers a different perspective.
Ideally, I would try and test a lot of different light sources and types of glass. But that takes time and money and unfortunately I am short of both. I did do some test with the materials I had available. After that I was learning by doing. The making of each art work is a lesson for the next one. I am never completely content with any of my works, I wish I was, but art is a learning curve. Even though Calder was my first mobile love, I was too intimidated by his perfection. Artist like Michelle Segre, Louise Bourgeois and Sarah Sze are more personal and messy. They are a better inspiration for my chaotic, messy, sloppy mind. So I hope to learn from them.
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Glass portraits, linen sheets and found objects
Eventually, my three last portraits became installations. Different elements hang within a steel framework: glass portraits, linen sheets and found objects. The glass portraits all have quite a lot of color, that will show when they are projected. Some are curved to emphasize the shape and make the projection a bit different. The linen is used as the historical background. I have sown linen-prints of the old handwriting and documentation on them. I have added historical objects used in the periods of my foremothers, to give more context to the composition.
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I needed to find a way to create some playful light
The last challenge is the lighting. I would love to see my works in an atrium or conservatory exposed to sunlight. I am curious how the sunbeams move over the glass, creating a moving projection, sometimes bright, sometimes soft. As I have very little control over the space where my works are exhibited, I needed to find a way to create some playful light. I have been testing torches and I found one type of torch that has the right size and amount of light. I will attach a torch to each of the works for visitors to shine on the glass as they please. This way, they can create their own perspective on my work.
It is hard to take good images of these installations, but I tried. At the moment, two out of three are in my online portfolio. You can see them by clicking here.