From objects to art, and back again
Williamsport’s Converge Gallery begins its 2014 season with a solo show featuring local artist and instructor Chad Andrews. “Objects to Place” opened Jan. 9 with a reception and a talk from the artist at 7 p.m.
The show will continue through Feb. 22 at the gallery, located at 140 W. Fourth St.
In his artist statement Andrews explained that the title of the exhibition, “Objects to Place,” refers to the “saddening moment after an exhibition ends.
“As artists, enormous amounts of creative energy, time and money are put into an exhibition that steadily builds up over a series of months. This build up leads to the highly intense moment of the reception which is followed by the month or so that the work is up on the gallery walls. At the close of an exhibition, we find it strange how the ‘art’ turns into ‘objects’,” he wrote.
When the work is being wrapped, shipped and stored Andrews explained that it’s during this “post-exhibition depression” that the artist often sees the work in “its truest light.”
To Andrews, art is something dynamic and ever-changing.
“To me, the joy is from the new exploration and moving into the unknown and reacting to it. I think this is why I love teaching; I am constantly introducing new ideas and worlds to my students. To witness my students’ excitement reminds me of when ‘art’ was new and wide open to me,” he explained in an email interview.
“Objects to Place” includes new paper silhouettes, mixed media pieces, graphite drawings and silicone polymer installations that “explore (the artist’s) relationship with tobacco.”
At 19 years old, Andrews began smoking and developed a pack-and-a-half habit that stayed with him for 13 years.
Now 48, he hasn’t smoked a cigarette in over 15 years.
“Now I am at Bloomsburg University and am seeing students in the (smoking) culture going through the rituals and the socializing that I went through. This began my idea for the ‘College Daze’ series,” Andrews explained, adding, “This series is still developing and some of the pieces at Converge are keynote pieces that I will build the series around I look at my work as a personal investigation into the act of starting, becoming habit forming, and then quitting.”
The aforementioned keynote pieces feature paired packs of Marlboro cigarettes shaped like human lungs. The “first” pair, pink and lucid, “represents starting” Andrews explained.
The second, still pink, but duller and with substantially more black in the composition, “represents quitting.” Andrews said he doesn’t see the work as either pro-smoking or anti-smoking; merely an “investigation.”
The paper silhouettes were inspired directly by Andrews’ role as instructor of printmaking at Bloomsburg University. “(My) silkscreen class cuts paper as stencils, which is a basic silkscreen process. To my surprise, I have a student, Chelsey Hicks, who became increasingly interested (to the point of obsession) with cut paper. As her excitement in the technique grew, so did mine. I began to research Pennsylvania’s rich history of cut paper as an art form, and began to see cut paper as a useful technique to express some of the images I have begun to work with,” Andrews wrote. Hicks has consequently become Andrews’ primary cutout assistant.
Another aspect of the work that has been directly influenced by serendipity and invention is a printmaking technique that Andrews developed during the summer of 2013. The process, which involves printing on compound panels, is something that Andrews said transformed a substance he’d used for many years as a construction material into an actual medium that he thinks of as “intimate chunks of wall.”
Andrews likened the finished pieces to “personal frescoes” referring to the traditional process of fresco painting that involves painting on freshly-applied lime plaster.
Another significant part of 2013 was Andrews’ diagnosis and fight with Lyme disease. “At a particularly low point, I was so weak I could barely put on my socks and I was in chronic pain,” he said, adding “Now that I am on the upswing, I see this part of my life as a second chance and I now have put my priorities in order and I do not want to waste a single moment. I have a lot to do before I leave this earth. So I am looking closely with love at the community and environment around me and I see what is important to me as inspiration.”
For more information about Converge Gallery, visit www.convergegallery.com and by phone at 570-435-7080.
Chad Andrews and his work can be found online at www.chadandrews.com. The work on display will be available for purchase; contact the Converge Gallery for a listing of availability and prices.