by Christopher Koza
Randy Walker is an architect who has found his niche as an artist by using colorful textile thread, elastic string, found objects and geometric structures. The resulting sculptures in By A Thread are what might happen if your sweater unravels and Walker is around to collect the material.
So why use string? “I never really thought about thread, and was never really into textiles,” said Walker. “But then I wanted to try looking at thread as lines, as a way to define space, and I got interested in the fact it could be transparent, instead of a solid plane of color.”
insists he follows no precise way of working, only that some pieces require
vigilant organization and evolve from plotted and parallel lines (“Color
Loom #1,” which uses pine, steel, nylon thread), while others operate
from a seemingly random set of rules (“Filled Cube,” made of steel
and nylon thread). Like “Filled Cube,” “Ring of Fire”
is string chaos contained by the order of a strict geometric shape, and looks
somewhat like a model of a colorful capillary system.
Walker describes working with string as “a matter of starting somewhere—making
intersections, watching where it [the thread] goes, and influencing its direction,”
He also warns that sculpting from thread can be a “seat of your pants
Also at Augsburg is Paper
Union by Northfield artist Mary Reid Kelly. Kelly’s work consists
of meticulously rendered oil paintings and drawings meant to illustrate issues
of race, class, region and gender through the images of historical figures and
symbols. Abraham Lincoln’s face, both bearded and clean-shaven, appears
five times in this series, and there are cameos of Ulysses S. Grant, Frederick
Douglass and Stonewall Jackson.
“Harriet Tubman and Eliza in the Woods” is a still-life narrative
of small paper cutouts. In it the figures are seen walking through stems of
grass and small plants whose relative size turns them into looming and untraversable
Reid Kelly’s work is a series rich in meaning, in both a historical and
modern context. By following the artist's creative process, a “paper trail”
is revealed through each conceptual stage. Her creative process can be traced
through her careful and skilled hand, as the works in Paper Union are multilayered
and truly multimedia constructions that just happen to be presented as oil paintings.
By creating paper cutout models in “John 1861” and “The Sleeping
Cavalryman,” the two-dimensional surface becomes a window into a three-dimensional
still life entirely fabricated and reframed by the artist.
The art directors at Augsburg College have filled their galleries with work
that comes from imaginative and devoted artists. In their respective shows,
both Walker and Reid Kelley deliver successful exhibitions on multiple levels
that are worth multiple visits. ||
Both exhibits run through Sept. 8. Randy Walker’s By a Thread
is at the Gage Family Art Gallery
on the second floor of the Lindell Library at 22nd Ave. S. and 7th St. in Mpls.
Gallery hours are Mon-Sat 10-4; Sun 1-5.
Mary Reid Kelly’s Paper Union is at the Christensen
Center Gallery on the second floor of the Christensen Center at 22nd Ave.
S. and 7 1/2 St. in Mpls. Gallery hours are Mon-Sun 8-5.