Robyn Horn: Material Illusions

June 25 – October 30, 2022

Artist Robyn Horn has been working with wood for over 35 years. Robyn Horn: Material Illusions will showcase Horn’s latest work, much of which was created during the 2020 Covid-19 quarantine period. The exhibition will be the first museum exhibition to present Horn’s recent sculptures and paintings on the West Coast. 

In 1984, Horn began working on the lathe, making wood bowls and vases which eventually evolved into carving wood sculpture. As her practice expanded, so too did the size of her pieces and the tools needed to create them, eventually utilizing a chainsaw to carve her raw materials. Horn has always worked in series, making sculptures that contain qualities of asymmetry, geometry, volume, lack of balance, and contrast with heavily textured surfaces. In 2005, she ventured into painting and explored similar qualities in two dimensions. 

Wood as a medium and material for art-making is inherently entwined with time. For stable, seasoned wood to become mature enough to work, decades and sometimes centuries may pass. For an artist who has been honing their craft with wood for over 35 years, time is measured not only in the hours, months, and sometimes years spent on a specific piece, but also in natural time–a slower process–in constructing their material. 

Robyn Horn explores this geologic time, reproducing the splendor of natural rock formations in carved wood sculptures. Her entropic pieces throw the natural order into a state of near-chaos; wood appears as if slipping from stacks–perilously teetering on thin bases. Under Horn’s hand, a material stable and sturdy enough to use in construction becomes elegantly precarious. 

Mirroring aspects of natural environments, including Blackchurch Rock, a rock formation in the United Kingdom which served as the inspiration for her sculpture Continuous Motion (2020),  this initial showing will explore correlations between the materiality and ideas that nature embodies. 

While the paintings employ an additive process (adding layers of paint) rather than the subtractive technique used in her sculptures, they consider similar themes found in her woodwork and rely on Horn’s unique understanding of geometry and exploration of surfaces. Horn builds up the surfaces of the canvases with layers of paint, before carving into them or embedding found metal, mirroring the techniques of her richly textured sculpture.  

A publication accompanying the exhibition will be available online and in the museum store.

Above Image: Robyn Horn, Carving on Lyrical Layers, 2020, Acrylics, rust, and charcoal on wood panel. Image courtesy of the artist


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