NEW PALTZ -- Field of Forms, a public art installation by sculptor Jeanne Jaffe will be installed at SUNY New Paltz on Monday, September 20, 1999. An artist's reception that is open to the public is planned for Saturday, October 2, 1999 at noon, in conjunction with the Arts Now conference ooh aah oh! art audience response (September 30 - October 2).
Field of Forms is the culmination of Jaffe's year-long residency at the School of Fine & Performing Arts, SUNY New Paltz, and Women's Studio Workshop, Rosendale, New York. It was made possible by the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation's Artist as Catalyst artist residency program. The work was cast by Polich Artworks, located outside Newburgh, New York.
Field of Forms is a sculptural installation of 23 elements. Created in various scales (from 8-10 inches to 22-24 inches), the elements are either copper electroform pieces or bronze castings in subtle yet rich patinas of ochre, red, or gray. These exquisitely crafted elements are mounted on slender steel poles that vary in height from waist to eye level. The overall impression is a topographic plane of discrete abstract elements. Inspired by everyday objects, animal forms, and the human body, Jaffe's sculptural forms invoke both familiar and bizarre associations. By creating a series of syntactical elements installed on stalks of varying heights, the project invites members of the audience to develop their own narratives from the abstract, yet referential forms.
Seeking a very public, accessible location, Jaffe has identified a site between the residential and academic areas of campus, near the center of campus on the large open lawn in front of Parker Theatre. There, thousands of students will pass by the sculpture everyday on their way to and from classes. The work will be installed in mid-September 1999. It will remain on campus for 18 months.
Jeanne Jaffe is a sculptor based in Philadelphia where she teaches at the University of the Arts. In her works, Jaffe develops series of abstract elements that invoke narrative structures -- referencing orderly classification and symbolic systems. Jaffe refers to the work as a fusion of pop and surrealism. "There is a pop quality that a lot of surrealism doesn't have. A kind of comic book quality, because the shapes are pneumatic, as if they've been blown up and inflated somehow. They're less realistic. There's also an ancient pictographic reference to hieroglyphics."
Jeanne Jaffe has developed a strong body of work over the past 20 years which has gained exposure in a number of important venues such as the 1996 Women Sculptors of the 90's (Snug Harbor Cultural Center). Her individual works have elaborated into installation-scale presentations, always for indoor settings. This is Jaffe's first outdoor sculpture.
The project began in 1998 with a residency at Women's Studio Workshop and SUNY New Paltz. Working closely with six art students, Jaffe began the development of forms for the sculpture by talking with people who use the site, and meeting with interested members of the college and college art communities. She began reading about the Mid-Hudson region - about its history, geology, geography, and populations - then developed her field of forms using plaster and rubber molds for casting provisional forms using colored resins, clay, cement, and wax for electroforming.
Revealing a desire to make work out of materials that can stand up a long time and remain outside in the elements, Jaffe also challenged herself to work outside of her own psyche. Rather than focusing on an internal source for inspiration, Jaffe has begun working with the things around her. "The easiest way to work with the outside source is to just be illustrational. So, how do I do something that somehow has some reference to the outside, that differentiates it? That was a challenge to me. And I don't think that will be solved in one piece. That's going to be an ongoing issue that I'm going to start addressing and I feel this project is the beginning."
The bronze elements in Field of Forms were cast at Polich Artworks, a fine art foundry located outside Newburgh, New York. Founded by Dick Polich, who also founded Tallix Art Foundry in 1970, Polich Artworks is a state-of-the-art facility that serves a roster of clients, from international art stars to hobbyists and students. Jaffe collaborated with Polich Artworks from the beginning of her residency. "It is exhilarating to be around Jeanne, and see her hands-on process throughout the development of the piece," stated Lenore O'Connell, Polich Artworks Production Coordinator. "We were all impressed with her connection to the work, and the incredible patinas that she choose. Jeanne is creating truly exciting, contemporary art work."
Field of Forms has been made possible through grants from Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation's Artist as Catalyst artist residency program and The Andy Warhol Foundation for the Visual Arts.
Artist as Catalyst is supported with funds provided by the National Endowment for the Arts and the New York State Council on the Arts. It places artists in residence with host organizations to benefit the artists in career and artistic development while providing program resources to non-profit organizations. "This program acknowledges and supports the vital relationship between artists and communities," stated Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation Executive Director, Alan Cooper. "It provides support for individual artists to create new work, engages artists and community groups in projects that explore cultural and societal issues in a creative way, increases understanding and appreciation of a variety of arts disciplines, and encourages the sharing of arts resources in the region."
During her residency, Jaffe worked at Women's Studio Workshop (WSW), an artist-run workshop founded in 1974 that is dedicated to printmaking, photography, and book arts studios. WSW's mission is to create professional opportunities and employment for women, to encourage women of diverse cultural backgrounds to work at the studios, to provide professional facilities to the community of working artists and to encourage the general public's involvement with the arts.
For additional information about Field of Forms, contact the Dean's Office, School of Fine & Performing Arts, SUNY New Paltz at 914-257-3860.