There is an interesting question of identity that comes directly from the nature of the work itself. As my craft-based, enamel painted, fiberglass forms hang on the wall, supported by their own shadows, the question of “what is it” comes up. Is it craft; is it fiber art; is it sculpture; does it want to be a painting. In terms of the identity narrative, is the true self the fiberglass object or the shadow that it casts. “Veneer” is a direct response to this conceptual byproduct of the material process.

“Veneer” takes the question of which part of me is me, which part of me articulates my identity, as general inspiration and focuses on the tension between the surface (the façade), it’s shadow, and the intangible yet very solid space compressed between the two.

“Veneer” is also of the body of works that look at individuals within closed groups. That is, how the form of an individual is affected as it becomes embedded in a specific group. 25 (52) doilies of the same size and pattern were crocheted. I like using prime numbers. I like the uniqueness, the individuality of a prime. I squared 5, a prime number. I like the idea of “squaring” round doilies. Both mathematically and in form. All doilies began as the same, because of the choice to join them at four points, and through the resin application process, each gained a brevity of individuality. At this junction, the overall form wanted to be flat and thin. This is where specificity of concept focused and gave me “Veneer”.

The fiberglass was set in translucent neutral gray resin. True to the concept of veneer, I set out to paint the front surface. To beautify? To assert individuality? To conceal? This set off associations of: surface paint, make-up, falsehood, ugliness, ugly color, war paint, conceal, camouflage. These associations created the color palette. At this point, I treated the work as a painting, making formal, compositional, and problem solving choices as a painter would.

That these 25 individuals became more about their own garish embellishment through surface paint, thereby becoming dependent on and manipulated by the external, gave me the puppet-like cross-bar hanger which suspends them.

The painted fiberglass façade hangs 5 inches in front of, perfectly parallel to, the wall. 5 inches because this distance not only etches a clear and complex shadow on the wall but also activates the space between the fiberglass and the wall, so much so that it becomes a part of the sculptural body. Now the work is no longer flat. It is no longer just crochet. No longer just a painting. It compresses and activates space. It becomes about space. It becomes sculpture. The paint is the front, the shadow is the back, and the space in between is the middle, the substance, the structure that holds all parts together.

So…where is truth of identity. Is it in the front-side in-your-face surface paint. Is it in the shadow and projection that the façade creates. Or is it found in the intangible yet very active space compressed between them.

Back to List of Individual Statements    Image


© Yvette Kaiser Smith 2004