in the shadows. / by Jeff Herrity Artist

My final piece in my studio class last year was a large installation with several parts. While the whole piece should have been experienced differently alternating between lit and unlit, the strongest element was the projection on porcelain shards and the shadows that were cast on the wall. This piece evolved from many different ideas which came to me constantly. My first original idea was born from my desire to do a painting for a project. I'm not a painter, but really felt that I needed to try many different approaches to dealing with similar themes. And, because our CORE studio class encouraged different explorations it made sense for me to take a risk and try something out of my comfort zone.

I think that there were several subconscious things happening with this piece that were revealed when I finished. The main thing that (clearly) jumps out is the floor work and the shadows that create a new landscape on the wall. Not entirely a surprise to me because I really like artists who work with light and shadows. I had more 'fun' trying to get it right and to have the shadows and projections create the right effect. But most importantly, working with the porcelain solidified my purpose of returning to art school - i love clay.  Why not have both?

I was really happy to be finished with the semester but of course the fear of the big show next year - the thesis show in the museum. What the heck would I do and what would lead me down the right path?

It wasn't until John and I were in NYC to see the Alexander McQueen show at the MET that something else occured to me: the shadows are just as important to me as the physical work. The work can stay the same but depending on how it is lit, or what is projected on it, the experience can be totally changed. After the mind-blowing McQueen exhibit we were walking around the museum  - John taking pictures of hands and other things with his hipstamatic app (he's quite good) - I found myself more interested in the shadows that were cast from sculptures. It started with a piece from the show Reconfiguring an African Icon: Odes to the Mask by Modern and Contemporary Artists from Three Continents called La Cuisine. As we walked by this piece (and many other similar ones) the complex shadow caught my eye and I felt that it really brought the sculpture, the mask, to life.

Suddenly I was prowling through the museum looking at things differently. There were shadows everywhere.

I am not sure what I can do with my work that will explore this effect, but I know that I am excited that I can enter my thesis year with an idea to build upon. I have no idea where it will take me and as I have learned (often the hard way) that I cannot always know what the end result will be.