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Will Clift: Interplays

Sep 27 - Oct 26, 2018

New York

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Artist Information

Entropy is the tendency of systems to move from order to disorder. It’s everywhere around us. But resisting entropy — developing and preserving structures — is very much a part of being human, and is a central aspect of every form of life.

In my sculptures I explore the line between order and disorder, combining intersecting parts into a whole that stands in delicate equilibrium on a small foot. Each work is inherently precarious, yet ultimately poised and stable, overcoming entropy. I use this narrow point of balance to connect viewers to something beyond the sculptural object itself. In each static form is tension, the suggestion of gesture or movement, the ephemeral moment between breathing in and out. There's potency and power in equilibrium, as well as grace, when the point of balance is reached.

As I would have said in my days as an engineer, this point of balance is where potential energy transitions into kinetic energy, and a form narrowly balanced can appear to contain both. For me the balance and the form in my sculptures are inseparable from each other, and I develop them through intuition, rather than any sort of calculation.

The poet Stanley Kunitz once described a poem’s structure as a way for it to contain and hold energy, and that the energy soon leaks out of a poorly formed work. I’ve found the same to be true with sculpture. After twenty years of creating works like this, what others might see as a stylistic constraint is, for me, a language that I’m still learning, one that enables the expression of something I experience but otherwise couldn’t communicate.

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In “Interplays,” I present work informed by three influences from my recent life. The first was a six-month position as Visiting Artist at Stanford University in 2016, during which I collaborated both with artists working in other media, and with researchers in fields outside the arts, from dance and musical composition to the structural engineering and material science that make up our built and natural environments. These projects helped me dig deeper into form and balance by expanding the frame within which I work, from considering the assembly and disassembly of a sculpture as part of the artwork, to creating sculptures that extend out of the single plane or suggest a development over time and space. A video of “In a Winter Garden,” one of these collaborations, will be on display.

The second influence has been a move back to Santa Fe, where I’ve immersed myself in the raw, essential forms of the high desert. Many of the sculptures in this exhibit will have a connection to this place, whether in the physical shape of a sculpture, or in the materials they contain.

Lastly, over the past several years I’ve continued to explore new materials and structures, honing the use of everything from wood, to composite, to steel and concrete. This has allowed me to push beyond previous physical limits in my work, create site-specific indoor and outdoor sculptures, and recently to develop plans for a 50-foot tall monumental outdoor work.