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Friday, Dec. 8
The Indiana Daily Student


Artwork focuses on societal transition to mobility

Gallery examines 'concepts of shelter'

In a world where people are more concerned with where they have been and where they are going, little notice is given to the transition between the two -- the present. Artist and MFA sculpture student Richard Saxton has captured a sense of the present in his works, which feature the fusion of connection and isolation. His works embody the connection between one place and another, one time and another, one idea and another, but those connections are isolated in place, time or idea. \n"These days people are moving less, but commuting more, so people tend to pay very little attention to where they actually are, to that transition from place to place," said Margo Handwerker, the gallery manager at the School of Fine Arts Gallery. \nSaxton's work encompasses the societal transition to mobility and movement, which is even reflective of his own career.\n"My ideas are mostly based on existing in limbo, in transition," Saxton said. "For many artists you have to go where the market is, where you can support yourself. The idea of home and the idea of shelter become foreign. My ideas are also reflective of the cultural tendency to keep up and become mobile."\nThe artist uses a number of transitional architectural features in his work, such as doorways, hallways and entryways, to emphasize the element of connection from the outside world to the inside of the home. \n"There is a clear continuation seen in his work," Handwerker said. "There are definite themes in his work and he is narrowing in on transitions within architectural spaces."\n"My work is about highlighting architectural spaces of which we move through, but don't take notice," Saxton said. \nThe idea of pathways as a connector between the home and the rest of the world is a common theme for Saxton, who has spent countless hours with anthropologists researching nomadic groups of people and their concepts of shelter and architecture. Since nomadic peoples are constantly in transition, Saxton was interested in incorporating their concepts into today's mobile society.\nBeginning today, the School of Fine Arts Gallery will exhibit Saxton's "Transitional Structures for Portable People," an interactive installation designed for the "bomb shelter." The "bomb shelter" is an enclosed area in the west SoFA gallery. Viewers are able to enter the work through a conduit, which represents the transition Saxton works to capture in his installation. Once inside the "bomb shelter" the viewer is able to interact with the work both visually and physically. By incorporating the idea of human presence into the work, Saxton has emphasized the elements of movement and change, as well as the person's awareness of their own surroundings.\n"Richard wanted the viewer to make the transition from the main area of the gallery to the bomb shelter," Handwerker said. "The viewer is not concentrating on a painting in the next room or a room made specifically for the painting -- the art is the transition from one thing to another."\nIt is Saxton's intention that the viewer gain an awareness of his existence in space and his relationship to space. \n"What I hope the viewer gets out of the work is that it is about the tension or anxiety drawn from implied architecture and actual architectural elements," Saxton said. "The installation ends in the ceiling among the actual beams and steel, making the viewer aware of drop ceiling in the gallery which implies 'ceiling.'"\nThe installation uses a variety of materials, creating a natural tension within the work. The supporting structure is comprised of 2 x 4s constructed in a tunnel shape or conduit. To juxtapose the solidity of the wood is plastic sheeting, which creates a covering to the entryway and tunnel. In addition to the building materials, Saxton has incorporated electronics. This inclusion represents the infiltration of technology into contemporary society, once again reflecting the idea of transition. \nThe SoFA Gallery exhibition begins today and can be viewed through Sunday, Oct. 6. The SoFA Gallery will host a reception, open to the public, Friday, Sept. 14, from 7-9 p.m. Saxton will also speak at noon on Sept. 21 about "Transitional Structures for Portable People" at ArtBites. ArtBites is an outreach program organized by the School of Fine Arts Gallery to keep the students and greater Bloomington community aware and informed of current community art events and exhibitions.

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