Kate Cheney Chappell Art Space

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I began making installations while attending the Charles River Studio Workshop in the late 1980s and early 1990s. The freedom of play encouraged in this giant kindergarten for adults fed my imagination and pushed me to experiment with many materials. My work literally jumped off the wall. I continued this creative play approach with artist and spiritual friend, Lynn Runnells, in Marblehead, Massachusetts through the 90s. The installation, Go Inside the Stone, grew from discoveries made during her workshops.

Nests and Eggs

Many things humans do interfere with natural cycles. DDT, the pesticide Rachel Carson warned against in her book Silent Spring weakens the cellular structure of eagle's eggs, for example. For this installation I made clay eggs, glazed and fired outdoors using a Raku method. The crazing that results from the shock of rapid cooling of the open clay body evokes the stress of thinned shell walls in nature. At Chatham University, students helped me build an outdoor installation of a nest from recycled dead wood, as eagles do. It contains two large Raku eggs, one whole, the other cracked open. Smaller (closer to actual eagle size) eggs are installed in the gallery and contain messages about the plight of eagles over the last 50 years and their rebound due to the banning in 1974 of DDT and other pesticides.

Click here to see and read more about the InterRelated exhibition and this installation.

Click on the image at left to see more of this installation

Go Inside the Stone

I first made this installation in response to a poem by Charles Simic of the same title. My aim was to create an experience for the viewer of entering a kind of “stone zone”, a place where time slows, the spiritual habitat of stones, if you will. The solidity of the stones is contradicted by the optical morphing of the stone shapes created by the reflective Mylar cells and the movement of the viewer. Stones seem to float, reflections of long wavy strips of mono-printed paper bend, and light and air currents produce an underwater impression. First installed in Somerville, MA (1995), and then as part of my solo exhibition at the New Britain Museum of American Art (2008), and most recently at Chatham University in Pittsburgh, PA as part of the InterRelated exhibition (2012).

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Pods (aka Vessels)

Double-ended monotypes were first installed on the floor (Vermont Studio Center) and later on the wall (On Island, University of New England 2007).

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Young Woman/Old Woman

Saplings, handmade bark paper, & sweet gum pods arranged on a black cloth base make two seemingly similar constructions. The subtle differences may be clues to which is the old woman and which is the young.

Click on the image at left to see more of this installation