Monday, December 29, 2008

Drawing as Process: Barry Assed

Sketch Pages talks to Barry Assed of Pennsylvania about his drawing process and what he discovers about life along the way.

Images from top to bottom: Dance-7 (2007); Dance Collage-7 (2007); Dance-8 (2008); Dance Collage-8 (2008), Demo-1; Demo-2; Demo-3

Artist Statement

It is a funny thing what the brain will do with memories and how it will treasure them and finally bring them into odd juxtapositions with other things, as though it wanted to make a design, or get some meaning out of them, whether you want it to or not, or even see it.
--Loren Eiseley

I am intrigued with making meaning out of the unrelated and chaotic and turning personal experience into a mark, shape or gesture. The shapes and edges I draw are combined with abstract mark making to expand upon the arbitrary. Using pieces of torn paper as stencils I create images that suggest an abstract puzzle whose pieces are overlapped and misplaced. The continuity in these images lays in the repeated shapes which are a metaphor for the mundane or random event and our attempts to instill a kind of meaning to it.

About the Artist
Barry Assed was born in Northampton, Pennsylvania and studied drawing and sculpture at Kutztown University. In addition he studied under Al Erdosy and Howard Greenberg at the Baum School of Art in Allentown. He currently resides in Whitehall, Pennsylvania.

Barry Assed’s work draws from a strong foundation in drawing and sculpture and has been exhibited in solo and group shows in galleries and museums throughout the mid-Atlantic region, including the Allentown Art Museum in Allentown, Pennsylvania and the Muscarelle Museum of Art, College of William and Mary, Williamsburg, VA. One of his drawings is in the permanent collection of the Muscarelle Museum. Also, his work is included the slide registry of The Drawing Center in New York.

The Interview:

Can you talk at a greater length about your work process and how you came to use stencils to create an “abstract puzzle?”
I became intrigued by the stenciled hand prints on the walls of the ancient cave paintings. I wanted to elaborate on these simple, personal gestures in an abstract way.

In the early work I tore a sheet of paper into several pieces and then used the pieces to create a structure of overlapping shapes and edges. Later, I put more limits on myself and decided to tear just one shape from a sheet and repeat it four times using non-relational composition which is suggested by symmetry and repetition.

Which comes first for you as you work, your process or ideas. Does your process inadvertently give you ideas?
Well, initially the idea came first, but when I’m working the process and idea seem to take turns or switch places. A series of drawings are created with the same process. Ideas come in the form of trying different mediums or combinations of mediums.

Can you talk about the role of the image/gesture/mark and how it became important to your work.
I make decisions whether or not the mark or image will be more expressive or more subtle, so my technique will adjust accordingly.

It seems that you work within an open system that involves some control and then losing control. Is this important to your discovery process as you work (having and losing control)?
Yes, the control comes from knowing the compositional structure of the drawing or painting. I know I will have one shape repeated four times, but control is somewhat lost in the process of tearing the paper. As I’m tearing the paper it goes in and out of control. It’s important to the extent that I never know what new ideas a torn shape will give me.

In your work, you discuss how repeated shapes, form and continuity in your work are a “metaphor for the chaotic or random event and our attempts to instill a kind of meaning to it.” How does your process reveal these ideas to you at first when you are working. How do you avoid predictability from one work to another?
The continuity I’m thinking of pertains to the same process I use to construct the drawing. I never know quite what the shapes will look like when I begin tearing the paper, so the shapes are randomly formed. Sometimes the shapes suggest a recognizable image similar to the act of staring at the clouds and seeing a “duck” or “face.” (con't. under image)

It’s in our nature to make meaning out of anything; even randomly torn pieces of paper. It is this dichotomy of the inconsequentially torn paper that means nothing per say and our effort to match it to something we know.
What are you working on now?
I am incorporating grids inside and outside of the shapes.
Demonstration 1, 2, and 3 images:

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