Robert Henry Contemporary, Brooklyn
With found materials, like product packaging, wrapping paper, fake fur, sheet metal, old book bindings, altered pages from auction catalogs and plaster casts of product packaging, Sharon Lawless creates collages and sculptures that manipulate spatial and structural frameworks that explore truth and perception.
Beginning with random arrangements of materials Lawless develops each composition with equal influence from the attributes of the materials and her arrangement of each found element, acting and reacting to achieve the desired optical effects. Her materials and method of making work, like the images she creates with them, alternate between the rational and irrational. Through a visual vocabulary rooted in Formalism and equally informed by Surrealism Lawless’s collaged two dimensional compositions at first look structurally solid but fall apart on closer inspection as multiple perspectives and continuity errors become apparent. The visual contradictions and shifting, often multiple points of view oscillate between control and chaos. Of her work, Lawless writes, “…facts give way to fiction, questioning the nature of reality, and perhaps reflecting the current state of politics and culture and the unavoidable background hum of bad news intruding into daily life.”
Her sculptures begin with plaster casts from discarded plastic and Styrofoam product packaging, often found on the street. These casts sometimes painted and combined with fake fur or other materials are integrated with the traditional architectural iconography and form of public monuments. These three dimensional sculptures are structurally sound objects that, unlike her collages, reside in an actual space. In her sculptures, Lawless creates functioning structures. It is our perception of them that alters as our perspectives of them change when we move around them in physical space. This movement adds the irrational element of chance to the experience of the work. Lawless involves the viewer in the creation of chaos that completes the work, “I’m attempting to engage the viewer by exploring spatial and color relationships, scale, the similarity between packaging and architecture, and the ways that manipulating visual logic can animate what we see.”
Sharon Lawless received her BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA in 1974 and her MFA from the University of Cincinnati, Cincinnati, OH in 1976. She is the recipient of a New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Painting and an NEA/SECCA Artists' Fellowship and grant from the Pollock-Krasner Foundation. She lives and maintains her studio in New York, NY.