Ardine Nelson
2008 Guggenheim Fellow
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This body of work represents my formal observations of ceilings. The buildings are older structures with layers of paint and generations of changing electric, water, walls, and ceiling finishes. The images are both recognition of significant form and exercises in formal design. At first broad form is evident but closer inspection reveals multiple subtle changes in surface texture, color and tone and spatial relationships. Gravity pulls everything toward the viewer.
In the United States and probably around the world at this time, the revision of history, the repurposing of our buildings and the question of structures and people abandoned before their time is of great interest to me. As building structures are repurposed or razed and the interiors are dismantled, previous revisions become apparent through the multiple layers of paint and wall materials and through the various installations of lighting, electric and HVAC. As usage would change most often the previous paint and electric lines were simply covered over. Lifting a drop ceiling panel may reveal older lighting devices, electric lines, water lines and heating / cooling devices that were easier to cover over than to fully remove. Structure details from 50 or 100 years ago once thought quite beautiful have been disguised by more modern surfaces and finishes – what does it matter what is left behind or lost as long as the new finish covers it over. This attitude is pervasive in many aspects of our daily lives.

My aesthetic influences are drawn from all of the history of photography and painting, but for this particular body of work perhaps painters and photographers from O’Keeffe, Diebenkorn, Johns to Richter, and Weston, Evans, White, Sommer to Rankaitis and Divola are most important.
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