“Tip the world over on its side and everything loose will land in Los Angeles.”
- Frank Lloyd Wright
The series LA Structures brings together my passion for modernist architecture with a long-time interest in Zen Buddhism. The sculptures in this series are spare in form and rooted in nature, minimal in both form and concept.
In 2017 I lived in the Mt. Washington area of Los Angeles for three months. I was isolated on my corner of the mountain, with sweeping views of the San Gabriel Mountains and the occasional visit from a coyote. I had few art materials at my disposal, so I bought a bag of concrete and began making forms.
Having grown up in Southern California, I was in my element, engulfed in the natural world, yet surrounded by modern architecture. As I relaxed into the environment, the sculptures became more spare, the lines less labored. On my walks I collected the smooth, black stones that are ubiquitous on Mt. Washington and incorporated them into the sculptures. I also collected the odd scraps of concrete rubble that crossed my path, and was intrigued by the juxtaposition of the materials that I was amassing. I was reminded of Zen koans, which present opposites without contradiction: smooth/jagged, soft/rough, destruction/creation.
Zen koans dissolve rational thinking by presenting a paradox that cannot be resolved by logic or common sense. They transport the mind beyond thought and conflict, into a state where opposites merge into a united whole. Taking this as my inspiration, I created a series of visual Koans, which express the integration of opposing states.
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I lived in Brooklyn long enough to see old buildings on my block completely destroyed, and then rebuilt in the nondescript style that permeates the borough’s cityscape. I collected the detritus and made them into the series Urban Structures, which honors the buildings that once stood. In LA Structures, I use the found concrete and stones to honor West Coast progressive values, as well as to celebrate the willingness to break with tradition, virtues which were an integral part of my coming of age experience.
Modernist architecture is renowned for its clean sight lines, its equal proportion of negative and positive space, and its adherence to the integrity of materials. In designing each Koan, I aimed toward the same simplicity. Destruction is inevitable as a culture evolves, but the seed is carried into the next generation of buildings. LA Structures is an expression of the ongoing paradox.