Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Unseen Forces: Recap

Well, it's been a week and a half since the opening of my show with Chris Ryniak, titled "Unseen Forces", at Stranger Factory gallery in Albuquerque, New Mexico. I think I've almost had enough time to sort of recuperate from the months of frenzied art-making, packing, shipping, travel, and set-up!

You can see pictures of every single piece in the show HERE. (Give it a minute to load, the image density is huge)

I feel like after every big show, I say "this was my favorite body of work to date"...and I feel that about this one too. I think that is a good thing! It means that I'm not only pushing myself to make work that continues to inspire me, but also that I have a healthy outlook on my strengths and weaknesses, which is an outlook I struggle to keep up a lot of the time.

Amber Pumpernickel, lit from behind.

This guy has horns cast in the same amber color.

His breastplate is cast from a cluster of citrine, and given a rich faux-bronze patina.

The overall tone of Unseen Forces was that of mysticism and magic - but from a naive and almost childlike perspective. Chris and I often talk about the idea of magic, and how though we're open to the idea of it, we have a hard time believing in supernatural things. But we both love the idea of magic, and wish that it were real. This show was a fun way to explore ideas of ritual, magic, and secret mystical organizations, set against the backdrop of our characters.

Stargazers with constellations inset into their foreheads.

Ivory horned bat displaying his bronzed crystals and Eye of Providence.
This heraldic bat bears the emblem of the Esoteric Tooth Cult on his banner.

Thematically, most of my pieces involved ideas from Alchemic study, astrology, and gemstones. I also decked out quite a few of my guys in full regalia reminiscent of the various posts in the hierarchies of secret mystical organizations (or my over-romanticized ideas of them, anyway!).

In terms of their production, this show really challenged me to use some fabrication techniques which were not really new to me, but using them at this scale was. I have never done much transparent resin casting in the past, but since introducing my Pipsqueak minifigures a while back, I've done enough experimentation to feel more comfortable with it. Both Chris and I integrated a lot of transparent effects into our work - many of which were cast-resin crystals, made to look like real quartz. I did use some real crystals in some of the pieces, but soon found that the resin versions were far more versatile to use, since they could be easily sanded, drilled, and worked with, not to mention their superior durability and light weight compared to their geological counterparts.

"Lux ex Tenebris", the show's centerpiece is 32" tall!
Lots of those faux crystals in action here...

Chris and I are very big on the idea of unified shows - that in a two-artist show with a central theme, both artists' work should be both their own, but still hold the entire show together. We accomplish this by using a unified color palette (for this show it was mostly blacks, greys, and neutrals, accented by pops of blue, amber, green, and yellow), and similar visual elements. We both used the resin crystals in our pieces, as well as fabric accents (something I do all the time, but Chris does not) for the "secret society" pieces. We also used the same resin horns (cast from the horns of a male dik-dik) in both of our work, to help tie it all together. This created a very unified look to the show as a whole, even though both artists' work could stand alone, which was our goal.

We created a sort of "ritual" on this old trunk, for our characters to conduct. Photo credit Chris Ryniak.

The gallery waiting for guests to arrive!  Photo credit Chris Ryniak.

The show opened, the gallery was absolutely packed, and though I know some people missed the opportunity to purchase the piece they wanted, I think everybody who came by was happy! I am very grateful to EVERYONE involved - from the people who work directly with us, to the people who made the trek (from as far away as Japan!!!), to people fueling my artistic fire by following me online and posting your thoughts and likes.  You all keep me going and I am very grateful to have such an awesome art family out there!

So now I say goodbye to Unseen Forces, but there are big things just around the bend. So, onward!

Taking pictures at over 10,000 ft. elevation, on Sandia Peak. Literally on top of the world!
Photo credit Chris Ryniak.


  1. I love seeing the photos of your work online. It looked like it was a truly magical show. Can't wait to see what you'll show us next :D

    1. Thank you, it was a lot of fun! Up next is Halloween!

  2. I really enjoyed how well both of your styles worked together in this show. Your professional and artistic abilities are very clearly displayed. And, as always, there is the element of fun, which is what I love about you guys!
    I must add that the first time I ever heard of a dik-dik was in a packed room, while my brother was showing slides of his time in Uganda. Unfortunately, my inner fourth-grader came out in a silent room when I snorted and giggled at the name. Oops.
    Thank you so much for sharing your work online for those of us who can't make the long trek to the Stranger Factory!


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