Appearances in a Placeless Place
My work is based in self-reflection, observing and breaking down multifaceted, long held beliefs related to perceptions of separateness and connectedness. The investigation is realized through objects and installation utilizing a variety of materials; plaster, plastics, paper, foam, Tyvek, encaustic, acrylic, oil, branches, roots, rawhide, faux fur and wings, in ways that confuse the manufactured with the natural. I like to think of my work as fragments of a blown apart reality, reconstructed into a landscape – both physical and internal, where forms collide and conjoin in myriad nuance and potential.
As I work, I often envision bits of life, a torso, a tree, a wing, a wave or a cloud for instance, drawing on memories, impressions and experiences, extracting and abstracting their essence, forming them into new iterations which reveal connections and embody a history. The pieces can feel earthy, plastic, body like, joyous, sickly, broken, solid, fragile, timeless - somehow familiar, somehow unknown.
Oftentimes, I build and saw apart my structures, over and over, cracking them open, adding materials and reconfiguring them to make anew. For me, this process physically reflects the continuum of life in every moment through deconstruction and transformation; knowing no moment, circumstance or person exists as a long term, permanent reality. "... To live fully is to be always in no-man's-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again." - Pema Chodron.
I’m interested in the silent, invisible lines of connection as words and definitions are never fully sufficient and that by virtue of the fact we give a thing a name, we immediately speak to what it is not – forming limiting beliefs.
Some of my influences lie in the Medieval, Renaissance and Baroque periods including Rubens, Bosch and Goya. My work engages and is entangled with this history as a mirror to the psyche and consciousness.
"We are constantly creating the environment that creates us" – David Whyte
The Visitation Project
As an artist working in 3D mixed media, environment and location are especially integral elements in how the work is perceived. The work can seem to take on various personas, emotions and inferences depending not only on its surrounds but on the viewer's history, mood and experiences, as well.
These last several months, with three solo exhibitions cancelled due to the Pandemic, resulting in the inability to have the work realized in gallery settings, taught me, to an even greater degree, the value of physically installing the work and its relationship to a space and its viewers. It is with these restrictions and restraints that The Visitation Project has been realized. Visiting my son and his girlfriend, while in the midst of home renovations, I took a pic of their dining room with peeled wallpaper on the floor and photoshopped one of my works; “Looming”, into the space. I am especially intrigued, in this one, with the contrasts of suburban life, the beautiful pool just beyond the window and the soon to be replaced 70’s chandelier juxtaposed with this other worldly object; “Looming”.
It’s here that I imagined acquiring images of other spaces to photoshop my work into. Places my work could visit. Although it’s my on-going intention to exhibit the work in a variety of physical spaces, including galleries, in real time, my intention for The Visitation Project is to realize – via photoshop - my work in various settings through images sent to me by invited artists to be part of this project.
The documentation will become an online exhibition and prints may be incorporated into future physical exhibitions in various ways. The artists will be attributed in all social media and will receive a print of the final work(s) I’ve created utilizing their image(s).
All Together Now was born out of the quarantine. Looking at concepts and conditions surrounding isolation and connection, I began to think about all of the work made recently and over the years.
Compelled, I brought hundreds of parts - current, historical and in-progress, together in a giant immersive painting / 3D installation / collage. The notion of a continuum and all happenings occurring at once is expressed through various dichotomies including shifts in scale, soft organic forms entwined with hard-edged linear objects and a sense of movement and fluidity up against work that feels more solid and permanent. This expression has allowed entry into the formless concepts I’m pointing at here – the experience of being lived - outside of conditioned expectations.
The BIG Nothing …is really something
The BIG Nothing …is really something is a collection of thoughts, experiences and feelings; bringing the formless into form as a portal to the eternal.
The inquiry into true nature, first starts by the noticing of and utilization of dualities. I’m interested in appearances; forms that appear heavy, weightless, light, active, still, elastic, rigid, empty, within reach, distant etc. From this view, I’m looking at my illusory, conditioned beliefs attached to perceptions, inquiring into what it is we all share underneath. Underneath the personality, underneath the beliefs, underneath the illusion; consciousness and awareness.
In holding awareness in all aspects of experience, a celebration of reality via the objects in “The BIG Nothing …is really something” is where the works derive their energy.
I’m using a variety of materials and processes to realize the work. In Origin, a piece with forms made of sewn Fosshape, a material which is very lightweight but when sewn, heated and painted, can be made to feel weighty. I’m also using scraps of canvas, acrylic with paper pulp, for a drier less glossy finish obscuring acrylics more plastic properties.
“To be fully alive, fully human, and completely awake is to be continually thrown out of the nest. To live fully is to be always in no-man's-land, to experience each moment as completely new and fresh. To live is to be willing to die over and over again. - Pema Chödrön
Related to one of his works; Anish Kapoor reveals a deeper truth; “The inside is bigger than the outside”. I love that!
Everything worth knowing is cloaked in paradox because everything substantial defies being revealed in its totality – Mark Nepo
This on-going body of work is nudging, pushing and shoving me to see more clearly; that although thoughts, feeling and perceptions are fleeting; love, beauty and truth - are unwavering.
Not This, Not That
Here, in "Not This, Not That", I am drawing from Goya's powerful and disturbing painting; Witches Flight, three female witches flying in the air, a Male figure, cloaked in black, completely covering his head and face. The picture has space without environment. No register of air: no atmospheric movement.
Like Goya's Witches Flight; "Not This, Not That" is a synthesis and manifestation of inner truths. The floating bodies, condemned souls, represents for me, elements of the self, seeking understanding and acceptance, most importantly for the self. The Male figure; that part of us hiding from our truths.
The works in this series are as much about their own presence and “object-ness” as their underlying narratives related to the bodily self and consciousness.
Layers of acrylic, powdered pigments and ink on Tyvek, which I’ve manipulated with heat as a substrate, result in a history of pieces; shreds, which are then assembled as larger structures or exist alone as evidence in the broader sense. In the making of these works, I conceive of them as both physical parts and embodied thought, pieces of history falling away and the engagement of new experiences.
This and That
You are hidden, you are manifest both
not this, not that, yet this and that
how can you be hidden when you're eternally plain to see
_ Fakhr al-Din ‘Iraqi, Mystic Poet 1213-1289
Exploring various states of impermanence, weightlessness and transparency through my use of materials; dyed polyfoam, distressed Tyvek, pigmented wax on cut paper and singed Dura-lar, I create a visual equivalency to philosophies and spiritual practices, both secular and formal, that simultaneously speak to our collective and my personal sense of what makes us most human.
Of Robert Irwin, Calvin Tompkins has said “His work is not about light, or a record of light; it is light — the physical presence of light made manifest in sensory form"
For me it could be said, this work is not about impermanence, weightless and transparency- it is the physical presence of impermanence, weightlessness and transparency made manifest in sensory form.
"___ the delicate fleeting nature of everyday phenomena" _Matthew Eric Mendez
The work embodies a transitory sense of presence in an ever changing, expansive atmosphere as relationships of all sorts; personal, interpersonal and global are considered.
I’m using a variety of materials in the making of both 2-D and 3-D pieces which introduce new realities between solid form and fluid circumstance. In their 3-d iteration I am utilizing polyfoam as a substrate which is dyed and manipulated into sculptural objects. The 2-d iterations employ wax, pigments and inks on Masa paper and Yupo paper. I then cut out shapes that resonate with me, allowing the gesture to become an important conceptual component in the work.
Some of these works hang on the wall while others are hanging freely from clips and filament wire tethered to the ceiling. They can appear as thin slices of atmosphere to walk around and peer through. Their elusive appearance with cut out areas, are especially stark in contrast to their bulky 3-D counterparts. An important dynamic to the work is exploring various states of impermanence, weight, weightlessness and transparency.
While the work itself contains the tangible qualities of materiality, the concepts embodied bring into question all we perceive as reliable, including our thoughts.
Although these considerations have been a part of my inner dialogue for much of my life, I became increasingly entranced with these forms, materials and processes as conditions, after the recent election, set the spiral of heightened questioning into motion. I’m engaging here with the broad picture of what it looks like to navigate an inner unknowing and our perceptual shifts in tenuous, shifting, precarious times.
"A subtle dexterity through line, form, color, shadow, and scale that becomes evident in the juxtaposition of the works installed together with carefully and sensitively cut, woven, dyed, and heated materials of delicate yet resilient nature that combines intentionality and conceptual mindfulness into a multifaceted presence that unifies a story of humanity told in different voices that enter and leave at their own pace." Matthew Mendez_arts writer and contributor to The Houston Review https://bonnyleibowitz.com/Artists/19121/The_Houston_Review.pdf
Remnants and Other Elevated Parts
In the Remnants and Other Elevated Parts series, I’m using a variety of materials and processes, freely transitioning between 2-D and 3-D. The unlikely combination; vintage and antique textiles alongside more contemporary materials; fabrics from second hand shops, kitschy oil cloth, glossy vinyl and polyfoam feels paradoxical in nature, like a historical timeline happening all at once. I like weaving together layers of the handmade with equal attention to the mass produced.
The textiles, being from all over the world including India, France, Japan and the United States have a way of intertwining in relation to form and aesthetics which roots the work in this conceptual conversation.
The 3-d works; stuffed, sewn, painted on and collapsed onto one another can feel like a pile of laundry or paintings unhinged from their stretchers becoming monuments to their former selves or, conversely; exquisite historical treasures.
I like the idea of adding my hand to history, altering materials while touching on history, migration, transition and the significant recontextualizing of culture through our evolution of change both personal and universal.
In the New Artifacts Series, I’m using a variety of materials and processes, freely transitioning between 2-D and 3-D. The unlikely combination; vintage and antique textiles alongside more contemporary materials; fabrics from second hand shops, kitschy oil cloth, polyfoam and glossy vinyl, feels paradoxical in nature, like a historical timeline happening all at once. I like weaving together layers of the handmade with equal attention to the mass produced.
The 3-d works; stuffed, sewn, painted on and collapsed onto one another can feel like a pile of laundry or paintings unhinged from their stretchers becoming monuments to their former selves.
I have always worked, in one iteration or another, on concepts that touch on history, transitions, consequences and perceptions, both personal and universal. The textiles, being from all over the world including India, France, Japan and the United States have a way of intertwining in relation to form and aesthetics which roots the work in this conceptual conversation.
I like the idea of adding my hand to history, altering these materials to become new artifacts.
Suspended Beliefs expounds upon the symbolic attributes of a stereotypical sense of heavenly-ness. These "facades" enlist notions of promise and legacy by over glorifying and embellishing objects to become treasured artifacts. The occasional rough treatment of surfaces and materials is just enough to hint at the deeper hidden struggles just below the surface.
Here, you'll find references to the pristine, angelic and revered juxtaposed by the presence of broken, decaying vessels; the perfectly imperfect; a paradox which can raise questions about how we deal with the complex issues of fairness on a personal level and in a broader context, globally and spiritually.
Many of the materials I'm using might be considered quite commonplace and ordinary, mulberry bark, graphite, antique architectural pieces and collaged details from masterworks of the 17th century along with wire, acrylic, Tyvek, vinyl, and yupo paper. I like using such banal materials to address lofty concerns.
"Suspended Beliefs" is a look at our ever unfolding truths, the way in which we question what we "know" and the unraveling transformation of long held beliefs.
Plight Of The Pleasure Pods
We are these wonderful beings; Pleasure Pods. We seek pleasure, success, acceptance, love and beauty. We struggle through a myriad of challenges which shape our psyche and manifest into perceptions we have of ourselves, others and our place in the world.
These seductive, tactile works both invite us in with materials one feels compelled to touch yet somehow maintain a sense of privacy and sometimes a need to slightly recoil as the investigation becomes perhaps a bit too intimate at times. And therein lies the fun. The Plight of The Pleasure Pods series investigates and reflects with humor and depth.
Identity, self-worth, pride, societal norms, memories, desire, connection, fear, ageing and loss find their way into paradoxical relationships in the expression of ego by way of evocative materials such as plaster, foam, rawhide, tree roots, limbs, faux fur, sheep fur, photography, mulberry bark, bed springs, rubber, vinyl, acrylic and more. Sometimes squishy and childlike, other times rugged, historical and worn, these materials create a balancing act of seriousness and play, structure and tension, safety and fear.
”The Diva And Her Deflated Ego” incorporates a large deteriorating pod sagging over a once important pedestal while adorning a rusty tiara. The Diva is supported by a failing limb, her shadow reflects back to her with imagery of Narcissus by Caravaggio and Hieronymus Bosch’s Heaven and Hell yet she maintains a glimmer of youth and sensuality with voluptuous form and a glimpse of her pink fur. Other works in the series intrigue with titles such as “Mating Season”, “Keeper of the Flame” and “Love Muffin’s Unofficial Monument” to name a few.
This body of work chronicles our urges, perceptions, vulnerabilities and strengths exploring the impact of desire’s pursuits.