Tara Donovan: Whorl
In creating her site-specific sculptural installation for the Hemicycle gallery at the Corcoran, Donovan, a Corcoran alumna, continues her exploration of the structural and aesthetic potentials of so-called ordinary materials. The result of this ambitious endeavor fills the gallery with an impressive, monumental field of synthetic fibers.
“No matter how large the field expands within given spatial conditions,” says Donovan, “the potential for unlimited growth is implied. It is as if the process, once set in motion, might continue to generate forms and in turn create fields that could expand indefinitely.”
Donovan chooses materials that have a functional or industrial purpose. Her past installations utilized electrical cable, tar paper, toothpicks, and adding machine paper as the base material. Beginning with the chosen material and manipulating it in a manner that is directly determined by its physical properties, Donovan creates simple architectural units. The form of these units evolves as a result of the artist’s repeated actions such as wrapping, bundling, ripping, and unraveling the accumulating material. When amassed in great quantities, these units lose their singularity and ultimately create a substantive field. Reminiscent of environmental and biological structures, the resultant form of the field grows directly from the process of construction.
For her Corcoran installation, Donovan is working with an ultra-fine, white fiber used in the manufacture of carpet. The material is donated by Allied Signal, Inc. and will be returned and recycled at the end of the exhibition. Cut and bundled, the fiber is piled and arranged in great masses to spread across the gallery floor. The final form creates tension between its organic appearance and the overwhelmingly synthetic quality of the material.
“Over the last three years,” says Paul Brewer, Director of College Exhibitions for the Corcoran College of Art and Design, “Tara Donovan has proven herself to be an emerging talent in contemporary art. This is by far her most ambitious effort to date and we are confident it will be her most successful.”