ana: curious collections



Wondering how an organ survives; how to clear it; how to keep it
receptive; how to lessen gravity and alleviate fear, grief.
Make a small, still, white bed and let it be calm.

-Martha Russo, 2000



From a study done at MOMA in New York City in the early 90’s, it was estimated that people look at a piece of art for an average of 8 seconds. With this in mind, I set out to find ways to keep people looking and involved in discovering art.

hold is a collection of objects that have various cues for looking and pondering based in scientific models and cabinets of curiosities. In the first drawer, there are various objects made of clay and casting slip that are of the same ilk but are difficult to categorize because they are all quite different from each other: some relate to the molecular biology world while others are clearly born of the ocean and still more of the garden. In the second drawer, there are two families of objects: on the right, there are pieces that are clearly related to shells and, on the left, the objects relate more to plant life. The third drawer consists of objects that have to do with the senses one activates to become aware of the objects in the two drawers above. On the left, these pieces have to do with hearing, as some of the objects in the drawers above ring with sound. You will see a life-size rendition of an ear and sundry components of the inner ear – cochlea, ear drums, semi-circular canals, malleus, and more. In the middle section, these pieces have to do with touch – blue fingertips, renditions of vertebrae, synaptic gear, and more. And the section on the right has to do with vision – eye balls, rods and cones, and, my favorite, eye balls with optic nerves that are true to scale.

The concept is that with the first drawer because all the elements are quite different from each other, it will take a long time to investigate and organize the pieces into patterns of recognition. The second drawer because the families of objects are quite similar but vary in size, it will take less time to investigate these because the sorting and arranging has already been done for you. And the third drawer circles us around to thinking about our gathering tools- the senses- and how much we need to activate and exercise them to discovery the world around us.

The individual pieces are just outside the realm of language and elude “naming.” My thought is if objects are more abstract, this “not knowing” will bring us way over the threshold of 8 seconds to try to make sense of it and experience a piece of art.

Please take your time.

-Martha Russo, 2000

Westward, Colorado Clay
Westward, Thermo-Dynamics