New Bedford, MA
Residency: July-August 2008
About the Artist
Jon Taylor grew up in New Jersey poking around old industrial sites and watching the landscape transform from woods into suburban homes. He received his BFA from Alfred University in 1999, and his MFA from UMass Dartmouth in 2005. He has just returned from traveling across Australia on motorcycle and a series of residencies at Sacatar Foundation in Brazil, Bemis Center in Omaha, Nebraska, Berwick Research Institute in Roxbury, MA, Vermont Studio Center, and Jentel in Wyoming. He works in various media and materials, believing in an adaptable and responsive approach to creating.
The work undertaken during my residency at SculptureSpace was heavily informed by the manufacturing history of Utica. My explorations took me to numerous abandoned industrial sites; museums of rust and peeling paint where the past seemed to be having an active, evolving conversation with the present. Often I felt completely overwhelmed with awe at the structures themselves, the layering of colors, textures and materials slowly returning to an unorganized state. Though I documented these places with photos, there is a certain capacity of atmosphere that cannot be captured through the processed image. In my sculptures here I sought to work in and through this sense of place by using carefully chosen, found materials that were already infused with this weighty aura. Through this process I was able to rediscover why such artifacts are not only interesting to me aesthetically, but so very pertinent to our current societal predicament.
The cylindrical metal structure is a scaled down gas holder. Once common, but now a rare sight, it held natural gas in telescoping cylinders with water used to seal between the rings. I remembered seeing these growing up in New Jersey, and I found it interesting that such a distinct and elegant architectural feature could have been forgotten so quickly. Here in Utica, there is actually one remaining gasholder house at the corner of Noyes and Francis streets.
The funnel shaped wooden forms came from an inexplicable desire to create them. The plywood is old hand-painted billboard panels, salvaged from a nearby dumpster, and sawn into thin strips. These were then individually cut, much like fabric panels in an article of clothing, to create the flared funnel shape. Given that the material was originally used in advertising, I equated the shape to represent the push and pull of communication. That visually, the forms both draw you into them, as well as project outwards with an audible energy, much like she shape of a megaphone shouts even when it is quiet.