Correspondance 2020, Collaboration
Juried by Brunno
June 25, 2020
The theme Correspondence, a collaboration, is at the heart of the longitudinal project that artists Geraldina Interiano Wise and John Cryer took on after they salvaged a treasure of materials: 40 panels that formed an existing light-diffusing baffle at the Rothko Chapel in Houston Texas, decommissioned in 2019. Geraldina- “a recorder of time”-, and John- “a master of details”- looked at the provenance and utility of the pumice-gray toned fabric-upholstered panel that had hung in the Rothko designed structure for about 20 years, and found correspondence between the banal material and the reason for its existence, and the sculpture that would best give it new life.
Texas Light Dancers- Misty 80”h x66”w x50”d (203cm h. x168cm w x127cm d) is a sculpture of and about light and lightness-physical as well as perceived. The panel at the heart of the piece was exposed to the strongest sunlight in the United States- Texas sun- as a barrier, diffuser, absorber, deflector. Sunlight bounced, leaped, redirected, in its state of weightlessness. A dancer emerged as the correspondent image to the panel of light: they are active, elegant, balanced; dancers elevate, and defy gravity.
Geraldina’s painterly approach to shapes and forms, her research into new translational technologies and John’s rigorous geometries and assembling methodology were put to work in achieving a human scale sculpture that characterizes the human body in dance motion: light, directional, extended, contracted, arching, ephemeral. At the center of it all is the Rothko Chapel panel, equipped with LED lights, emitting light again, in a weightless and balanced position. The bottle-green translucent plexiglass light refractors that straddle the panel and pierce the air are shapes that correspond to patterns made by dancers using wearable motion-tracking E-Traces technology. These pieces are gestural, moving backward in space, as do dancers when carving space three-dimensionally. The materials used are wood, steel, fabric covered foam panel from Rothko Chapel, plexiglass, yupo paper, salvadorean coffee ink, LED lights.
The artists played to their strength and to the trust in each other’s abilities as artists, thinkers, recorders of time, and makers, which resulted in intense but productive (and comical at times) interactive sessions that were recorded as verbal correspondence, part of the backstory of this series. The collaboration resulted in tangents that would be eventually edited out, but in that process yielded best and most appropriate ideas such as Geraldina insisting on achieving a correspondent anthropometric scale- not unlike Le Corbusier’s use of his Modulor man-of a dancer on pointe, or airborne in sauté, and John staying rigorous in the usage of the geometries derived from the panel. In the end, the collaborative discussions came down to dark steel vs. light to match the panel’s original fabric, wood panel triangular leg vs. muscular dancer’s legs, color of plexiglass dancers vs. a translucency that gave flight to them, and lastly, and importantly, the color of the ballerina’s legs. None of these decisions were as easy to make as the last; Geraldina is an avid follower of Misty Copeland on Instagram @mistyonpointe, Principal Dancer with American Ballet Theatre, NYC, who epitomizes the strong, talented, and spirited, black ballerina with an all-American backstory of perseverance and work ethic. Living in the #BlackLivesMatter era of equality and inclusiveness, it was easy to choose her athletic ballerina legs to correspond to the strength, force, and beauty in our piece.
After years of sharing a studio building, Geraldina and John knew their fortes, and trusted their individual development of their art. It would take their shared curiosity and appreciation of building materials to develop a collaboration that could extract a heightened artistic meaning out of an unassuming fabric-covered foam panel.
The Texas Light Dancers project is a longitudinal collaborative project of making individual choreographies for the 40 decommissioned Rothko Chapel panels, allowing for a curation of the series towards shedding light in the present Covid-19 pandemic times of distancing and social unrest.