by Associate Curator, Theresa Bembnister
Jackie Winsor (born 1941, St. John’s Island, Newfoundland, Canada) assembles sculptures out of unexpected components. She prefers organic materials such as rope, hemp, branches and logs or building supplies like concrete, nails and bricks.
Not one to shy away from difficult physical work, Winsor constructs her minimalist geometric forms through repetitive manual labor. For #2 Copper, the artist built a grid out of 36 narrow pieces of wood, arranged in three sections of concentric squares. She wrapped each intersection with #2 industrial copper wire, forming 72 balls. As a child, Winsor assisted her father as he built their family home. Both her youthful construction experience and her college education in painting informed this process. “As a painter I was very interested in drawing, so when I was working on sculptural shapes I was thinking of them as drawings, you know: a line goes around and around and around and around,” Winsor remarked. “Part of how I thought of these early pieces is you just make the form full and fatter and fatter and fatter until you’ve built a shape, much like we build a house: more bricks, more bricks, more bricks.”
Winsor introduced winding, a handiwork traditionally associated with soft, domestic materials such as yarn, to rough construction materials that are typically associated with masculinity. The result is a union of masculine and feminine sensibilities. Her slow and meticulous fabrication process is integral to the meaning of the finished works; labor imbues the sculpture with the memory of her physical actions. With her emphasis on the physical qualities and metaphorical associations of her materials, Winsor shares a kinship with many artists participating in Heavy Metal, on display in the Isroff Gallery.
Weighing approximately 2,000 pounds (or one ton), #2 Copper is a challenging artwork to install. First, a forklift or heavy-duty pallet jack is used to move the sculpture on a pallet to its desired location in the gallery. Exhibition technicians then slide three padded braces with a U-shaped key through the interior legs of the sculpture. Without the additional support, #2 Copper would collapse under its own weight. The sculpture is then lifted with a chain hoist and gantry. The pallet is removed from underneath and the artwork is lowered to the floor.