Monday, September 29, 2008

The 5 Artists Project: Iris Goldstein

Left to right, Torso 1, Torso 2, Torso 3 detail

Iris Goldstein appeared in ArtStyle Blog in November, 2007, in an interview by Mirjana Ugrinov, another artist in the show. Mirjana and Iris have worked together as colleagues at ARC Gallery in Chicago, where Iris currently serves as an officer. I met with Iris earlier in the year in her studio, where she showed me her art and process.

For many years, Iris made large sculptures of hard wood and covered them with tiny marks with color pencils, enhancing the texture and color of the wood. Although she still uses color pencils in her drawings on paper, she now uses her current technique -- plaster-aluminum screening -- almost exclusively on her relief sculptures.

Iris Goldstein. Gesture 1, Gesture 2, Gesture 3, Gesture 4. 2008. Aluminum screen, plaster and acrylic paint, 15" x 19" x 4", 15" x 15" x 67", 17" x 13" x 4", 13" x 14" x 6", respectively.

Her process generally involves cutting pieces of aluminum screening, forming organic shapes, using wire to hold the shapes, attaching cheesecloth over the wire, applying wet plaster over the cheesecloth, and finally texturizing and painting the dried plaster.

Gesture, detail

Gesture, detail

Gesture, detail

"My relief sculptures, made of aluminum screening, create presences which explore the connections between surface form and an emotive exploration of color. The repeated patterns of the forms, which are geometric but also sensual, play against the subtle shiftings of the color.

The search is for equilibrium, a balance of formal relationships. The surfaces are rendered to appeal to the sense of touch. Repetitions and change are used to examine the power of texture and color to add to one's sense of well being or disquiet.

Abstraction enlarges one's ability to bring to an artwork personal reactions and experience, and I hope for an enlargement of my ideas and experiences through the reactions of others to my work."

Sometimes to develop the structure of her pieces, she uses a wood backing to provide a strong foundation to help enhance the surface area of the pieces. Visitors have commented that her Torsos remind them of female figures.

Iris Goldstein. Torso 1, Torso 2, Torso 3. 2008.
Aluminum screen, plaster, and acrylic paint, 33" x 17" x 3".

In addition to relief sculptures, Iris enjoys drawing with color pencils. Similar in form and color to her sculptures, the Gesture Grid drawings complement her other pieces in the show.

Iris Goldstein. Gesture Grid. 2008. Color pencil, 22" x 25".

Gesture Grid, detail

The following is a write-up in the Chicago Connection: The 5 Artists Project catalogue, which was published in August, 2008.

Iris Goldstein

Background - Painter and sculptor with more than 20 years of professional experience - MFA, School of the Art Institute of Chicago; AB, Smith College, Northampton, MA. Studied sculpture with Leonard Baskin, also with Cosmo Campoli at the Contemporary Arts Workshop in Chicago - Taught children’s film making classes after school, University of Chicago Lab Schools - Artist-in-Residence, Haguro-Machi, Japan
- Member, ARC Cooperative Gallery, Chicago
- Exhibiting since 1979

Selected Exhibitions
5' by 2', Members Exhibition, ARC Gallery, Chicago, 2007; Muses and Musings, One-Person Show, ARC Gallery, Chicago, 2006; Open Studios, Exchange Exhibit, La Genie de la Bastille, Paris, France, 2005; W.A.S.P.S Chicago Exchange, Patriothall Gallery, Edinburgh,Scotland, 2005; EastWest, Group Show, Liu Haisu Art Museum, Shanghai,China, Catalogue, 2005; Small Objects, Group Show, TZ Gallery, Chicago, 2004; Articulations, Two-Person Show, Atelier Art International, New York, 2003; 30th Anniversary Exhibition, ARC Gallery, Chicago, IL, Exhibition Co-Chair and Installer of the work, Editor of the exhibition catalog, 2003; A Capitol Commute, Gallery 10, Washington, D.C., 2002; ARC in Japan, Matsugoaka Gallery, Haguro-Machi, Japan, Atelier Gym Gallery, Tokyo, Japan, 2001; Wer Weiss Wozo es Gut Ist? GEDOK Gallery, Hamburg, Germany; Art of the Third Coast, Red Head Gallery, Toronto, Canada, 2001

Observing Iris Goldstein’s plaster-relief sculptures, one wonders how the pieces stay upright on the wall, as they look like dense twisted pieces of wood, clay, or stoneware. Using plaster-covered aluminum screening, she creates relief sculptures that not only seem to defy gravity but also have an extra dimension to them with their wave-like and curved formations, similar to organic forms in nature or even wormholes in space.

Earlier in her career, she worked on labor-intensive wood sculptures and then discovered the plaster-over-aluminum-screening method from a friend. The process involves cutting pieces of aluminum screening and shaping them by hand and then using wire to hold the shape, stretching cheesecloth over the shape, painting several coats of plaster on the surface, and then painting and adjusting the shape as the plaster dries. As the piece starts to dry, she sands the surface for a smoother look, carves the surface, or leaves the paint brush texture. Sometimes the shapes are stapled onto a wood backing. After the piece is completely dry, she applies a protective coating on it. In the end, the piece is very durable, light weight, and easily transported.

With a palette ranging from earthy browns and grays to iridescent jewel tones, she explores the “connections between surface form and an emotive exploration of color.” The curvilinear geometric and natural shapes draw us in to take a closer look at the shifting colors, forms, and textures. Providing an almost meditative quality, the shapes sooth us with their undulations and repetitive patterns. Some of the pieces exhibit a subtle aura of sensuality and magnetic energy, and one has an urge to run a finger along the surface to connect to it.

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