ELISABETH MUNRO SMITH
What Goes, What Stays is an exhibition about dismantling, discarding and change. A year ago, while moving to a new studio, I disposed of many years of stored work and carted to the new space as much leftover raw materials and old pieces as would fit. As I began new work, I had to find materials consistent with the limitations of space – in a sense, changing my own self-image as an artist. The work exhibited here is constructed from materials saved from the disposal pile as well as new materials, reconfigured into new structures. They describe a complicated process of metamorphosis and travel from there to here.
I have always worked with a variety of materials – paper, paint, photographs, fibers, wire, but primarily wood, either milled wood or vines and branches that I cut from around my old studio. My main focus for a long time has been the image of the house in its landscape, as well as roads and maps that connect the house to the world beyond. A narrative unfolds through the materials: curvy vines, strips of wood, the organic and the man-made, color and form, delineating travel through time and space.
The earliest piece, “What Goes, What Stays,” describes, in four parts, the dismantling of the old studio.
“Five New Places” is a construction of landscapes in five panels, made from saved pieces of painted bittersweet vine and basswood.
“Here We Go Again,” the most recent piece, is an assemblage of studio leftovers combined with objects collected mainly from walks in Central Park. This “map,” with its many tracks and ways of travel, suggests process and change, discontinuity, and the ongoing transformation of the old into the new.