Source Material

Art is not a leisure activity. Art is something we do – something we struggle with, something we form out of the raw materials of our lives. Art, simply put, is a process.

Source Material is ostensibly an exhibition of still life works, but it is so much more – indeed, it is a celebration of that artistic process, of that struggle. Here, artists show us how they respond to their worlds; they show us how art emerges from everyday materials, from the building blocks of myriad lives.

Xico Greenwald’s “Source Material Dioramas” are fascinating insights into the artistic process; here, indeed, the artist brings us in to his own worlds, his own responses, his own ways of living and seeing. In the first “Diorama,” we encounter a bottle of Goya peppers, a couple of shells, and a worn brush; we see here a universe, a place of collision, an artistic process in and through which raw materials – source materials, perhaps – collide and are changed, thereby producing art, a reimagining of worlds.

The second “Diorama” is also a process. Here, indeed, we encounter sketches of plants and flowers juxtaposed with actual plants, and actual flowers. We see, then, how source materials interact with each other, and we see how the artist has drawn from his world the materials with which he will experiment, with which he will struggle. He responds to those source materials; he changes them, molds them; he pours his own mind into their winding leaves. Ultimately, he makes art of them, and they of him.

The “Dioramas” are, fascinatingly, stationed outside of the exhibit room; inside, we encounter paintings in various stages of completion. I am drawn, especially, to Despina Konstantinides’ “Thanking Z,” which is a whirl of color, texture, and process. The artist has poured her paint, her arms, and her body onto the canvas; raw materials collide, and art is formed, unformed, and challenged.

And just nearby, Kim Sloane’s “Pale Flower” is engaged in a different, yet related, process. This, I believe, is a breaking-down, a vivisection of source material, of natural properties. Sloane’s flower is distilled, is torn down to its constituent elements; the artist has shown us how she, with cutting eyes, sees and responds to the objects, the world with which she is confronted, and in which she creates.

Source Material is indeed beguiling – it is a rare and exciting look into the lives, the vision, and the processes of artists. As I leave, I feel my own eyes changing; I feel that I, too, am engaged in a process, a world-building exercise, an artistic endeavor.

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Source Material is located right in our Library, on the 6th floor, at the Queens College Art Center. Go check it out!

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