LOS ANGELES, CA.- Maloney Fine Art
presents an exhibition of new work by sculptor Joel Otterson.
For the past three decades, Joel Otterson has made sculpture, which combines aspects of domestic handicraft with traditional sculptural materials. Copper pipe, woodworking, pottery, porcelain, china, earthenware, concrete, marble, stained glass, quilting and lacemaking are the raw materials of Joels sculpture. Utilizing practices such as sewing and quilting, traditionally associated with feminine craft making, Joel turns these humble materials into muscular art. The artist blurs the line between high and low culture, art and craft to create poignant sculptures, which are both utilitarian and de-constructivist sculptural objects. Through this endeavor, exploring Rock N Roll, Baseball, and 'what it means to be an American.'
The artist has collected American Pattern Glass for over a decade. Early American Pattern Glass was made mostly after the Civil War when industry devised ways to blow glass into steel molds in an attempt to simulate the American Brilliant Cut Glass, which was labor intensive. It is also called Pressed Glass. It was an economical way to produce glass and it opened up new possibilities. Joel particularly likes the glass that has imagery in it.
Joel states; I have made other sculptures that included collections of objects, the artist trading roles with the curator. I made The Coffee Table Museum, The Tea Cart Museum/Dead or Alive, and two Walls of China that included about 200 pieces of American ceramics in each. The chandelier "Bottoms Up" is in the same category, taking my collection of objects and making a sculpture from the collection. I see the chandelier as a party, a toast, 72 glasses held high and Bottoms Up.
"Maybe its family tradition. My mother makes quilts and taught me to sew when I was 3 or 4 years old. I also love the fact that Im a big bear of a guy and its sort of a contradiction. Im happy that I can carry on this tradition of needlework. Recently my neighbors 16-year-old daughter wanted to learn how to sew. Her mother and grandmother didnt know how to sew, so I was the person that taught her how. I thought it was nice that a young girl still wanted to learn how to sew. Traditionally, men did tailoring. But quilting, embroidery, and lacemaking was womens work. I do all those things. Id like to think that its a political statement. I am a feminist, but not the Gloria Steinem kind. On occasion I have met up with a friend in Central Park hes big, manly, and smokes cigars, and Im bearish, he would tat and I would crochet. Even in NYC where anything goes, this was outrageous, two blue-collar-looking guys sitting on a park bench making strips of lace, it was crazy and I loved every minute of it. The bottom line is that something made by hand is completely different that that made by a machine or in a factory. I celebrate what my hands and their 10 fingers can do."
Joel Otterson, who was born in Los Angeles in 1959, spent most of his childhood in Oregon, attended Parsons School of Design in New York City, where he remained for two decades. Joel was one of the youngest artists ever selected for a one-person exhibition in the Projects Room of the Museum of Modern Art, New York (1987). The artists work is included in the permanent collections of Cincinnati Art Museum, The Broad Foundation, The Israel Museum and many others.
This past summer, Joel work was included in Made in L.A the first California Biennial at the Hammer Museum and was included in the 1993 Venice Biennale.
The artist lives and works in Los Angeles.