Sunday, September 19, 2010

Beaver Sculpture

This piece of sculpture was found as part of a beaver dam near Dried Meat Lake, Alberta. While the artist is using some traditional elements in the overall composition, this work is clearly of the new Second-Growth school of sculpture. It represents the ascendancy of Second-Growth as a style capable of addressing both methodology and ardency.
While recent exhibits in the Eastern Willow style have received some critical discussion, most serious collectors and curators have shifted their focus to Second-Growth. The name stems from an emphasis on using aspen and poplar, two trees that were once derided as "too much work to get to." But the so-called G2 artists have been challenging the dominance of willow. They've moved away from the silty creek beds, away from the saplings that helped launch so many careers in the lowland galleries. By broadening their range of materials, the G2 artists have drawn attention to the more subtle aspects of the new style.
This piece in particular shows the potential of Second-Growth. It represents the most dynamic use of form to come out of Dried Meat Lake in years. The artist has eschewed the typical double-V notches in her cut in order to create a form that is tenuous, vulnerable. There is an unsettling asymmetry to this work, a reminder to audiences that for all their seeming friendliness, standing trees are capable of a devastating kinetic violence. But the artist hasn't made an alarmist political work; you can see the careful placement of her lower incisor marks near the center of the wood. She has balanced the bold, precarious form with subtle embellishments. Because there is little of the upper-incisor in this sculpture, she draws attention to chewing as a deliberate act. This work also typifies the G2 emphasis on sensitivity to grain, an obvious response to Eastern Willow's bulky tooth-work.
Adherents of the Eastern Willow style would do well to take note of this work and other G2 offerings. This Dried Meat Lake sculpture exemplifies a challenge to some traditional ideas about material selection and form. Second-Growth has taken on the task of making sculpture that is both graceful and startling. Many curators and audiences, myself included, think they are succeeding admirably.


  1. Yes! Back to School!

    (also, my word verification for posting this is "psinerse," which sounds apropos of this blog, but is not.)