Blurring the Lines
Drawing is often considered a "practice" art. Granted, Michelangelo's sketch The Risen Christ sold at auction for a record $12.3 million a few years ago. Even Picasso's rough sketches of his mistress, Genevieve Laporte, fetched a hefty sum. The catch is that only after their deaths and their recognition as masters did their drawings become prized. It's unlikely that a noble back in da Vinci's time would've paid a cent for one of his line drawings, regardless of talent or reputation.
Maybe that's why exhibit curator Joan Waters decided to venture beyond conventional boundaries when choosing works for the "Drawing Energy" show at Herberger Theater Center. The word "drawing" has been reinterpreted to include photography, painting and three-dimensional sculpture, resulting in a highly successful collection that explores the relationship between kinetic energy and mark-making.
Take Rebecca Davis' inspired Dark and Silver Sphere, for example. Up close, it's a series of scribbles in ballpoint pen and silver ink reminiscent of grade school notebook doodling. Not exactly impressive. But take a few steps back and the image becomes a textbook example of a drawn three-dimensional globe: dark edges, decreasing gradients and an off-center white highlight. Davis has captured the vibrant, childlike energy of the unconscious scribbling we all do while talking on the phone and taken it to a grand scale of nearly six feet in diameter. It's a subtle, yet intelligent piece.
Daniel Friedman's Fish in the Weeds would be out of place in another drawing show, but here, it blends seamlessly among the numerous three-dimensional sculptures. A melon-sized natural rock is cradled in a tangled web of rebar. Solid tendrils arc away from the rock centerpiece, trailing behind it like the serpentine locks of a metal Medusa. In Phillip Lichtenhan's Three Dimensional Drawing, found metal is warped and affixed to fan parts, forming the rough outline of a flower. Orange lawn flags, some charred or faded with age, act like outstretched stamens. These two artists aren't simply sculpting abstract forms. They are adapting unconventional media to create lines; in effect, "drawing" with metal.
Drawing is limited because we categorize it as a design tool, not an art form. The Herberger's eclectic grouping allows the viewer to transcend this assumption and view drawing as any expression of energy. Davis' sphere illustrates how children do this naturally. They aren't constrained by artistic conventions or rules. They blur the lines. Perhaps we as adults, and artists, should take a cue from them.
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