Gwen Gibson’s Wall Pieces

Gwen Gibson, Polymer Wall Piece, 1997

Between 1996 and 1997 Gwen created about 20 wall pieces before returning to jewelry.  Gwen writes,” Having abandoned much of what defined my work as jewelry, I felt free to experiment with scale and function.  This wall piece combines several techniques as well as two and three-dimensional treatments.”

Imagined Artifacts, 1996 each approx. 11″ x 6.75″ x 2″

Gwen made a series of assemblages meant to imitate artifacts as they might be seen in a museum.  These two wall pieces were exhibited at MIPCES and since that time have hung on my office wall just opposite my desk.  Between them, they embody all the various surfaces and patina treatments that Gwen had developed up to this time.  The “bronzes” and “pottery shards” are all imagined artifacts which Gwen modeled from polymer then finished with acrylics and patinas to look ancient.  Some sheets of polymer were imprinted with textures; others carry reversed phototransfer on translucent polymer.  All the parts of the assemblage float about 1/4″ above a corrugated background.

Expressions of Time IV, 1996, 10″x 10″ x 2″

This wall pieces also hangs on my office wall, flanked by the two above.  It is a particular favorite of mine because it was my first introduction to Gwen and her work.  Gwen sent an photo of this piece in advance of MIPCES and it was love at first sight.  Both Gwen and her work fully lived up to my expectations once I met her in person at the MIPCES opening.  Like the other works from this period, faux artifacts from an imagined culture are mimicked in polymer, finished in bronze and rust patinas and mounted on textured and printed sheets of polymer.  The imitative artifacts float above the surface of painted wood.

Wall piece, 1997, 9″ x 6.5″ x 2

By the time Gwen completed this wall sculpture she had started to employ stencil screen printing.  Her refinement of this technique would become a staple for polymer surface decoration.

I cannot remember a time in my life that I wasn't interested in looking at art, talking about art and the making of art. In 1990 I earned a Phd in art history at the University of Maryland. My first experiences with polymer clay were in 1992, but I consider my real work with the medium to date from 1999.