Kay Whitney ; .... a deceit
All art is basically a kind of deceit - it proposes alternatives for reality, utopian choices that bear little potential for probability. This kind of deceit is harmless; art represents a little white lie that contains maximum imaginative potential, creating its own belief environment; a fantasy with tangible elements. I’m making multiple Pinocchio’s, each piece tweaking reality, lying just a little, each piece growing its own long nose. I leave the multiple layers of my work exposed in a series of sections that can be freely connected without imposing a ‘closed’ reading or experience. I generate my sculptures, drawings and collages using something like a musical score - a score that involves sequences, folding, splicing, notation, accumulation and aggregation. Each time the pieces are displayed they are different; between one showing and the next sections stretch out and wrinkle, alignments shift, different stresses show up. I work with a number of references; the intimate and the distant, the machine and the body, the natural and the synthetic, the idea that nothing is fixed in how we perceive or interpret. I deliberately chose materials that are the conceptual opposite of the images they serve.
I use industrial felt, a multi-colored product made of compressed recycled scrap plastic, shreds of cloth, thread and bits of aluminum and brass foils. The material is uneven in weight and thinness, working with it involves chance effects beyond control or anticipation. I also use a kind of plywood, Baltic birch, usually intended for kitchen cabinets. The wavy grain of the plywood surfaces mirrors the action of the felt sections. My work takes a long time to make; the wood is meticulously sanded and finished, the layered fabric components cut and sewed by hand and on an industrial sewing machine. Every section is hung from a hand-set grommet. The time it each piece takes to complete (sometimes a month or more) becomes part of the experience of looking at it; there’s a lot of detail - intricate curves, the irregular surfaces of the fabric, the uneven line of the seams. My industrial, construction- related components get transformed into something both sumptuous and severe.
I’m dealing with ideas about indeterminacy, flexibility, and the possibility of continuous transformation. The result is a body of work that creates otherworldly environments, invented topographies and seemingly organic structures from inorganic materials. The scale of my work is always in relation to the human body. I also think about the experience of my work as being theatrical. The placement of the work in a space, how it is lit, and the amount of surrounding space are all calculated. Because the surfaces of my work shift and follow the perspective of the viewer, there is a perceptual change that coincides with a person’s physical movement within the gallery space.