Lehman College Art Gallery

 

BARBARA ANDRUS  

Andrus_image

Forest Extract: Walking Between Swans Island and Sears Island. 2011. Branches and jute. Dimensions variable

 

A Hand-drawn Architecture

I build with lines.
I choose as material tree branches. They have a variety of strengths and for my palette they provide a wealth of linear qualities.

Throughout my work there is an investigation of linearity. From actual drawing to using the found lines of tree branches. In the variety of trees that I use I find an evolving alphabet of tree lines, textures and color. The small understory trees that I use are often light-deprived and very slender. It is secondly the flexibility and strength of these branches that are key to my building process.

Installations are built as paths , walking places, enterable, and also resonate with the architectural space they’re built in. In my drawings I’ve played with the intersecting of circles with squares and the inverse and then carried these juxtapositions into three dimensions: how do spheres contain cubes and vice versa. Next to making circular disks of branch drawings held is squares and then covering the disks with cloth which was intensively sewn around the branches, adding another layer of drawing. First the exterior was cloth and interior branches, then inverted; then the whole structure evolved into a carousel book wherein one walked through the pages made of branches, surrounded by the panels of cloth-sewn circles in squares.

Earlier I carved wood, using hurricane-felled cherry and apple prunings and stumps from orchards. When I began constructing these architecturally scoped pieces, maple and birch became primary choices with beech added. The beech and maple are abundant understory trees. Discoveries of blueberry, tiger maple and basket willow have broadened my palate.
These materials are very available wherever one goes. Once I’ve collected more than I think I can possibly need, leaves are removed and some basic cuts made. My tool kit is simple. I have chainsaws, loppers, pruners, pruning saws and Japanese saws, jute string and scissors.

These pieces are temporary places, realities. They exist because I make them. They linger in photographs and then echo forward in the next sculpture that I make. I make each piece once. It is only in their making that I figure out how to make them. In the making some unfinished or undraddressed aspect is the seed of the following piece.

In this new piece, “Forest Extract: Walking Between Swans Island and Sears Island”, I am using dark and light wood (peeled wood and white birch) in a new way. I am alternating the light and dark wood in stripes. Secondly, I am using the branches in decreasing sizes. On first seeing the piece, one meets a large, diagonal “wall” the outer perimeter, (it’s a fairy fort.) As you walk back into the work, the scale diminishes and then the piece zigzags back and forth  and into two tall spiraling shell-like turret forms. One form leads into the other and one can walk in and around in them.

 

Andrus_sma1           Andrus_sma2

Forest Extract: Walking Between Swans Island and Sears Island. 2011. Branches and jute. Dimensions variable. Installation details