John McEwen – A Passing Gust of Wind
The Olga Korper Gallery presents “A Passing Gust of Wind”, new works by John McEwen on view now until September 30th. The artist will be in attendance for the formal opening on Saturday, September 9th from 2-5pm.
Constellations today live primarily in science and astronomy, but their origin is in storytelling, in taking a handful of light and transforming it into an image, an object, a tale. When a cluster of stars become an archer or a goddess they become more than the sum of their parts. John McEwen has a long history of ‘constellating’ (John’s own term), in his studio he gathers, welds and creates not just sculptures, but stories.
“A Passing Gust of Wind” offers striking new pieces in McEwen’s oeuvre which play into the dialogues and dualities he has explored throughout his established career: the solid steel form and the welded lattice, light and darkness, animal and spirit. Massive sculptures rendered in stars allude to centuries-old themes that have appeared and reappeared throughout history, delicate stories and allusions represented in corten steel.
Heart Breaks comments on the effort to mend a broken heart, that two sides can come so close without ever being welded shut. One feels that if they watched long enough, they could see the stars multiplying like cells to mend the gap and become whole once more.
The wolf form, one of John’s most recognizable icons, is rendered twice. The latticed wolf of The Ridge Road – Open Material is its own constellation: a roaming wolf of stars walking through space. We can both see it and see into it. Its bronze paws, an unexpected surprise, seen again in the lovely bronze ears of The Listen – Horse, comment on the sensitivity of touch, of knowing one’s place, of knowing oneself. Conversely, the solid wolf of The Ridge Road – Closed Material gives off an air of invulnerability, like Peter Pan’s shadow, it is a thing independent, apart. Earth and sky, animal and spiritual. These dualities resound throughout the exhibition.
There is an ancient Jewish concept called Tikkun Olam, taught to young children as the story of the universe as a jug (stories are constellations too, they connect dots to give meaning and purpose, to deliver a message that might otherwise be missed). The jug (and the universe) were smashed into millions and millions of pieces, and it is our duty during our lifetime to repair the jug piece by piece through acts of kindness and generosity and hospitality. The jug may never be perfect just like universe may never be perfect, but our effort is visible in the cracks, because that is where the light shines through, and the light is beautiful.