South Carolina Highlights–Art-o-mat

When I visited the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art I had the pleasure of seeing my first Art-o-mat.


During my undergrad years I started making pocket art. I continue to make small scale pieces so the idea of dispensing art via the Art-o-mat is interesting. I read through the guidelines on the Art-o-mat website a few years back, even downloading the box template.

Art-o-mat Detail Random

Visit the Art-o-mat website for the guidelines and to download the official box template.

South Carolina Highlights–Motoi Yamamoto

South Carolina Highlights–Motoi Yamamoto

I visited the Halsey Institute of Contemporary Art to take in the installation Return to the Sea: Saltworks by Motoi Yamamoto.

I was excited to see how Yamamoto used salt in an installation format. The simplicity of the process–a squeeze bottle, a brush, and an idea–wowed me and the work was beautiful.

Yamamoto Salt Demo Set up

When I view work I typically do not like to read or hear much about it. I want to experience the work on my own. Well, can I ever really be on my own considering that all of the stuff that I have seen and experienced comes along with me.

Yamamoto Detail

When I first saw the work I felt an overwhelming calm. Living on the California Central Coast I first thought there was reference to the patterns left on the sand by the tide. I heard a few folks talking about hurricanes and storms. I didn’t see that. The work was too elegant and repetitive for me to think storm and violence.

What was I missing? After I viewed the work from the floor and platform, I watched the two videos connected with the artist and his work. The hurricane reference was there in the form of the satellite images of storms. The exhibition also had several of Yamamoto’s prints that made the storm reference clear.

What does Return to the Sea mean? Actually just that. At the end of the exhibition the folks are invited to help dismantle the piece. The idea is that they will take a bit of the sculpture with them and literally return the salt to the sea. The ritual nature of the process is evocative.

I have used salt in my work for a variety of reasons–reference to preservation, currency, good luck, and as a surface effect to grow crystals on works, and patination. While I was at the exhibition I found out that in Japan salt is used not only to attract good luck but to ward off evil. More reason to continue to use salt in my work with reference to evil.

When is a Piece Done?

I thought that I completed “Preservation and Collection” at the end of 2010. After the work was returned from a show at Western Nevada College, I hung it in my office, above and slightly to the left of my monitor. I specifically hung the piece so that it would loom in the periphery. That it could seep into view when my mind was on another task.

Preservation and Collection

A few days back I realized that the piece made me terribly uncomfortable. It was hung a tad higher than when it was exhibited and didn’t have great lighting, but I couldn’t see what was inside the cups.

Preservation and Collection

I spent loads of time making the cups and the bags filled with poison plant bits. But there was too much distance from the cups to experience the work the way it was intended.

I liked the idea of the 3×3 format–its reference to a nine patch quilt, but the result wasn’t right. I removed the cups and shelf from the wall. I will make new homes for the cups, but I haven’t yet worked out the details. Pretty sure that the cups will be happier hung together, in several separate and open shelves rather than in their original presentation.

Hanging pieces in close proximity was a great lesson I learned from Sharon Tetly. Sharon teaches at Western Nevada College and offered me the exhibition in the College Gallery. My work is rather small and intimate and the space is long and narrow. I was concerned that the work would be lost. Sharon grouped pieces–which I felt emphasized the intimate nature of them wihtout the loss of their autonomy.

Preservation and Collection

Sharon’s presentation of my work offered me a new viewing experience.

The photos were taken by Sharon Tetly.