Ethereal sculptures reminiscent of wings and of underwater creatures cast majestic shadows across the
Real Eyes Gallery in Adams, where Brandon Graving's " Dance on A Blue Stage: I Love You — Tell Everyone," is on display through Nov. 7. An artist talk is scheduled for 5 p.m., Oct. 23.
Pale, mute-colored sculptures cast from crape myrtle trees felled during Hurricane Katrina, embellished with hand-painted vellum, found shells, glass beads and teardrops, egret and rooster feathers, and porcupine quills collected in Africa, are juxtaposed with brightly colored monoprints in this show of works culled from two decades; some new, some unseen.
"All of my work attempts to describe and suggest aspects of being human with great attention to the natural world that we share," Graving says of her work.
Graving, a master printmaker and owner of Gravity Press Experimental Print Shop at the Beaver Mill in North Adams, is known for her monumental, large-scale monoprints, multifaceted installations and sculptures.
An early resident of the Contemporary Artists Center, formerly located at the Beaver Mill, Graving originally split her time between North Adams and her home in New Orleans. In 2005, Hurricane Katrina ravaged her home, destroying her house, studio and much of her art. She became a permanent resident of North Adams and opened Gravity Press.
Her work is held in many notable collections including the New Orleans Museum of Art, and the Frederic R. Weisman Foundation. She has exhibited internationally and noted awards include the Pollack-Krasner Foundation Award, the Gotlieb Foundation Award and the Joan Mitchell Foundation Award.
Works on view in Brandon Graving's "Dance on a Blue Stage: I Love You — Tell Everyone" at the Real Eyes Gallery, in Adams.
"This selection of monoprints and sculpture," Graving writes in her artist statement, "encompasses unique works created very recently and many never exhibited or revised works from the past two decades."
Foreground: Today, 2020, abaca cast over a stick, stainless steel, steel rod, porcupine quills collected in Cameroon, Africa, and Cam wood also collected in there.
"The exuberance and delight expressed in the monoprint 'Dance on a Blue Stage,' depicting a possible fantasy of dancing across the sky with your loved one, helps describe the gratitude I feel for the global community; celebrating that connectedness which keeps us alive."
"The suspended forms are animated by the ambient air currents, turning after you are still. The movement of the sculptures challenge the space occupied, engaging our focus on our own bodies as the sculptures change the space in front of us."
In foreground: Kiss No. 3 — Just Bursting.
On wall: Wish No. 238, 2007-2021, cast abaca over crape myrtle tree branch, stainless steel, glass, plexiglass and hand-painted vellum.
"These current sculptures tend to be minimal in color but the embossed monoprints often have saturated color areas."
Right: Three Small Explosions or Epiphanies, 2021, abaca, stainless steel, vintage pink porcupine quills, lead, egret feathers and hand-painted vellum.
Left: "Precipe: Sapphire,"deeply embossed monoprint on paper mounted on canvas and stretched over cradled panel. Handmade inks using interactive pigment, encaustic and cold wax.
"This allows me to have nearly translucent, seemingly fragile areas, be incredibly sturdy; structure and surface simultaneously."
Seen here: Orlando, 2003, abaca, stainless steel, hand-painted vellum.
tRuth, 2007-2021, a scuplture made of abaca, hand-painted vellum and stainless steel, hangs in the Real Eyes Gallery in Adams. In the background are (l-r) "Empherea: Flowers with Golden Bullets," and "Precipe: Sapphire."
A close-up of Brandon Graving's Wish No. 238.
The sculptures in this video are from a group of works called Wonder; included here are four suspended/ kinetic works and one large wall piece. The spine of the wings and other works are cast from crape myrtle trees felled by Hurricane Katrina in New Orleans. The sculptures are then fabricated with archival quality abaca paper pulp over a steel armature and then finished with individually torn translucent paper tendrils.
While these sculptures appear fragile and delicate, the abaca paper surface is incredibly hard, strong and durable adding to the conceptual information about these works. With close inspection, the surface reveals the individual placement of fingertip-like pieces to create a complex textured structure. The kinetic aspect of the work allows them to exist in space as we do; they interact with the ambient air currents and become directly involved with the movement of viewers while producing a dance of shadows. The current individual works are 4-feet, 20-feet and 60-feet long and interact with each other as these do within this film. The larger 60-foot work is fabricated in three parts and deconstructs itself only to reform above the viewer's head.
The nuanced piano music by Omar Sosa is so often heard streaming from my studio while fabricating these sculptures and also during studio visits by viewers to see the completed works. I was so happy and honored to use it here.
— Brandon Graving, artist
"I fabricate much of my inks using pigments, metals and bones; this allows me to control where the inks become suspended within the print paper as it is under pressure from my specialized presses which create actual dimension during the printing process."
Seen here: "Fireworks and Ruby Flowers," 2003 and 2013, Deeply embossed monoprint on paper mounted on canvas and stretched over a cradled panel. Handmade, light interactive inks, encaustic and cold wax.
"The materials chosen in my work physically embody the concepts asserted here. The primary substance used for casting the branches of the sculptures is abaca, a fast growing plant which produces extremely strong fibers."
Seen here: Wish No. 238, 2009-2021, abaca cast over crape myrtle tree, stainless steel glass, plexiglass and hand-painted vellum.
"Abstracted, simplified and specifically chosen aspects of landscape or organic systems, juxtaposed aerial views with close up perspectives in these very large scale monoprints encourage the viewer to relate to them physiological and rewards them for coming in close for more details."
Seen here: "Mother: Aerial View," 2018, Deeply embossed monoprint on handmade paper with resins and inks. Four panels.
A visitor to Real Eyes Gallery in Adams view works by Brandon Graving.
A view of "Dance on a Blue Stage: I Love You — Tell Everyone" at Real Eyes Gallery, 71 Park St., Adams.
Kiss No. 3 — Just Bursting, a kinetic sculpture by Brandon Graving, is juxtaposed against "Flight Plan," a series of five deeply embossed monoprints on paper.
Small Bursts of Knowledge: Yes, made of abaca, stainless steel, polymerized Ficus leaves, crystal, pearl stamen and hand-painted vellum, is part of a series of small sculptures by Brandon Graving.
Graving, a sculptor who originally trained with brass, creates kinetic sculptures with abaca paper casts of tree branches felled by Hurricane Katrina.
Kiss No. 3 — Just Bursting, a kinetic sculpture embellished with glass beads and hand-painted vellum, hangs in front of "Mother: Aerial View," four panels of embossed monoprints on handmade paper with resins, glass and inks.
"Precipice: Sapphire," 2000 and 2021, an embossed monoprint on paper, mounted on canvas and stretched over cradled canvas is made with handmade inks using interactive pigment, encaustic and cold wax.
Two monoprints, "Window on Jade Land," and "Window on Sapphire Land," are part of "Dance on a Blue Stage: I Love You — Tell Everyone."