June 6, 2018

Recycling, Recreating, and Re-presenting

By Danielle Cunningham Tierney

Jodi Stuart’s process for her installation Untitled (Exclusion)/System Virtue in the 965 Gallery show Reclamation embodies many of the elements that draw me to installation art: undiluted creativity inspired by a space, a transformation of everyday materials into fine art forms, and permission given by the artist to the viewer to move around the work. With this latter point especially, Jodi’s work not only encourages the movement of viewers’ bodies but activates her own body movements as well. Jodi has, “always been interested in ideas around the body and technology. Throughout my practice, I often oscillate between the desire to re-insert the body into a virtual experience – and/or - to materialize real objects from the virtual.”

In my view, an artist’s physicality is interesting, though seldom discussed a facet of making, and can expand meaning when the viewer is able to experience this behind-the-scenes action. You can see this action in the time-lapse of Jodi’s installation included below. As I witnessed, Jodi’s process is labor intensive, resulting in her frequently perching atop a ladder or squatting on the floor as she crafted her forms. Not only can the meaning of work change once a viewer becomes aware of the process behind it, but as a maker myself, I know that the meaning of work often changes once I get in touch with my materials. This is an element I pondered while watching Jodi’s initial plan transform as she installed. In a way, do art forms effectively make themselves, and are all artists merely guides?

Artist Jodi S. installing artwork in 965

Watch Jodi Install Artwork

Line and color are fundamental to Jodi’s sculptures, as she begins by drawing neon colored lines with a 3D pen. She then connects these lines to existing, organic-seeming forms disassembled from other work, constructing a web-like maze of old and new tubular shapes that flow atop, off, and even over the gallery wall. Complementing the 3D shapes, Jodi placed a digitally constructed grid printed on vinyl behind them, allowing them to emerge from this grid, and reference their high-tech/virtual origin.

Through this practice of recycling materials, every fresh piece Jodi creates contains echoes of previous works, enabling pieces of old installations to continue their existence as they both inform and unify with the new. This concept is especially appealing to me, mirroring my personal belief in non-linear time, as well as my interest in the biographies of inanimate objects. With their vibrant color palette and references to microbiology, Jodi’s objects certainly seem alive.

Jodi didn’t overlook any detail in her installation, which is noticeable in her attention to the role of light and shadow. As she added final touches a few days before the show’s opening, she took special care to re-configure several forms in order to draw attention to or detract from specific areas on the wall behind them. Amber and I had the opportunity to brainstorm with Jodi as she worked out these final details.

Reflecting back on this exhibition, I realize the significance of a well-known artist like Jodi taking the time to collaborate with us student curators, who are only beginning our careers and have accumulated little cultural capital as yet. I appreciate her remarkable humility, her dedication to her craft no matter how humble the environment in which it lives, and will carry her example into my interactions with fellow artists and curators.  

Jodi is also featured in Pink Progression, for which she collaborated with Jennifer Ghormley.

Danielle Cunningham Tierney is an artist, writer, zinemaker and cyborg enthusiast. She will be attending graduate school at the University of Denver beginning in September 2018, where she will study contemporary and new media art.