In my sculptures, I explore abstract but suggestive organic forms as a way to see the natural world—and our place in it—anew. In my work, I follow Taoist philosopher Chuang Tzu’s sage counsel: “Let your mind wander in simplicity.” Through simple materials, tools, and processes, I use line to create shape, form, and movement. And, as in Zen gardens, space in my work demands as much attention as the objects themselves.
With influences as diverse as Ruth Asawa and Carl Andre, Alexander Calder and Jeremy Mayer, David Nash and David Smith, I make both hanging and freestanding sculptures using the simplest of industrial materials: metal wire. Although I employ a variety of types and gauges, including annealed steel, copper, and brass, I prefer 16-gauge galvanized steel wire for its pliability and springiness, weight and sheen.
Regardless of the specific project or materials, my process begins with the same basic steps. I uncoil, measure, and cut wire, then straighten and bundle it. Once the materials are prepared, I shape the wire in stages using a small array of tools, focusing first on creating a work’s central mass, then turning my attention to line, form, and movement. I bend and twist the wire in such a way that the sculptures are entirely self-supporting, so no soldering or welding is necessary.
A variety of organic sources, from roots, leaves, and flowers to aspects of the human form, inspire my work. In my sculptures, tendrils suggest branches or neurons; spirals evoke vines or DNA strands; curves recall flowers or ganglia. Yet my sculptures also emerge from the possibilities inherent in the very materials I use. The malleability and tensile strength of a particular type, gauge, and mass of wire, in concert with my own evolving ideas, help guide what a project eventually becomes.
Using metal wire—an inert, lifeless material—to suggest organic forms creates an ironic disjuncture, one I hope helps us to reflect on the biological diversity we take so much for granted. I also hope the striking incongruity between materials and forms in my sculptures encourages us to ponder the unnatural distances we attempt to maintain between ourselves and the natural world.