Now through March 24th, nine works by Chris Oliver occupy Artspace’s front two galleries. These sculptures and CAD drawings provide insight into Oliver’s interest in domestic construction and his history as a carpenter. Lumber reclaimed from old buildings is paired with miniature pine beams, fibreboard, and red rosin paper to create enclosed, intimate spaces.
In Stewart, two reclaimed windowsills are placed in the center of the work to divide the sculpture into two wings that are further divided into two stacked levels. The bottom level opens expansively at each end of the work, allowing the piece’s audience to see directly through the work, the view only partially obstructed by support beams at the central divide. The openings at either end of the work allow unfiltered white light through the piece, enhancing the feeling of expansive space. The upper level of the work demonstrates more confined space, the floor sloping up to a wall at the central divide and bordered by exterior support beams. The top of the work is covered in red rosin paper, a material generally used in construction as a protective barrier. In this situation, the paper allows a rosy glow to filter through the roof and into the upper level of the work, furthering the feeling of enclosed, sheltered space. Oliver uses this contrast in scale and light to exhibit the ways in which space is perceived.
Reflecting on his background with old buildings, Oliver relates, “As I have peeled back sheets of gray wood paneling to reveal floral wallpaper (and beneath this find absolutely vivid faux tile linoleum), I am always amazed that each layer was actually the backdrop to long segments of people’s lives.” Oliver’s work excellently displays this concept. The works evoke the foundational skeletons of houses, the shells in which people live day-to-day lives. In this way, Oliver’s works show the foundation of “Our Daily Rite,” the show simultaneously running through March 24th at Artspace. These skeletal structures are the backbone of the daily ritual, the starting and ending point of the day. Both concealed from and open to the exterior world, Oliver’s works show the public-private balance of the interior and its place in daily life.
Jeremy Wolin is a high school sophomore who attends the Educational Center for the Arts when he is not an intern at Artspace