|Artwork created during residency.|
|Artwork created prior to residency.|
About the Artist
Betsy Alwin was born in Minneapolis, Minnesota in 1973. She received her BFA in Sculpture and a BA in Spanish Language at Minnesota State University, Mankato, Minnesota. She earned her MFA at Illinois State University, Normal, Illinois. She has attended several residencies including the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, the Vermont Studio Center and Sculpture Space. In 2005 she completed a permanent public commission in Tokyo, Japan and has participated in several public art programs such as the annual Art Under the Bridge Festival in Brooklyn and Figment on Governor’s Island. She has exhibited her work both regionally and nationally in venues such as A.I.R. Gallery in New York City, the Berkshire Botanical Gardens in Stockbridge, Massachusetts (Mass MoCA), The University of Washington Tacoma Gallery and the Islip Art Museum in East Islip, New York. She lives and works in Brooklyn.
I initially went to Herkimer to develop a project derived from the geology of diamonds and the development of their worth. After making several trip to the mine to “find” diamonds, I became more interested in the labor-as-recreation aspect of the activity, the heavy and sometimes grueling physical work driven by a particular urge. As I watched people in the mine, toiling away on stones with crude hammers, I saw that they were completely – mentally and physically – engrossed in the hunt. People hammer for hours on non-descript stones with the only intended purpose being that they might find a perfect gem. After hours of observation, I began to feel that the act of repetitive hammering and pulverizing of stones was hypnotizing – a repetitive activity evolving into a pathological habit. Finding one gem often led to the search for another, more perfect specimen and so on. The concert of striking hammers created a particular atmosphere in which I felt that the activity was really about the hammering; the joy of destruction with the added benefit of finding treasure.