Roswell Artist-in-Residence SV Randall’s exhibit, As Pair Legged, to open
By Christina Stock
Roswell Artist-in-Residence (RAiR) SV Randall’s exhibit, As Pair Legged, opens at the Roswell Museum and Art Center (RMAC), 1011 N. Richardson Ave., Jan. 24 at 5:30 p.m. with a lecture followed by a reception.
The artist’s studio at the RAiR compound reflects Randall’s art style and creative approach to his work. Finding inspiration in the serendipitous connections of material he brings back after a walk to the mailbox or a simple stroll down the rugged winding road toward the meadow to feed horses. The material and artist tools are laid out in a seemingly chaotic, yet orderly fashion. Large panels with separate compartments are painted in analog colors; some are filled with gravel from said walks. They are sculptures, reflecting a past function, awaiting their last creative touch before heading to the museum to be placed in the Marshall and Winston Gallery of RMAC.
In his description of the exhibit, Randall writes, “Demarcated dirt denotes distance. And divide. A non-place where there is only elsewhere and other and afar. And the grooves of my shoes are already caked in mud. Endlessly scrolling our attention slides — never sticking to any-one-thing. Eyes that float and shadows that sink. There is only threshold after threshold.”
Randall describes his studio being a tornado studio. “This studio is always inspiring,” he said. “I think if I worked in a really neat and tidy studio, then the work would be really neat and tidy. I think by allowing messes to happen, I kind of withdraw from; I might like the relationship between these two colors (he is looking at small canvases with a cream and the other having a grey primer.) I wonder if I could do that here (he is looking at the larger sculpture panels.) It’s a consequential accident, which could lead to a creative outcome, which is always inspiring.”
Randall is accompanied by his partner, Laura Neal, who is an artist in her own right, her tools are words. “Laura is a poet, we’ve done some collaborations where we riff off each other’s work,” he said. “She’ll be writing a poem in response to a sculpture, or I’ll be making a sculpture in response to her poem.”
Talking to Randall, it is clear that he is a confident artist and at ease talking about his work. “I’ve always been really interested in drawing,” Randall said. “When I was getting ready for college, it was kind of the decision between the sciences, like chemistry, or art — I decided to go for art. I went to Alfred University, Upstate New York and focused on painting. After that, I worked as a high school teacher in New York for a couple of years and then went back to graduate school at a VCU — Virginia Commonwealth University in Richmond, Virginia, where I studied sculpture a couple of years. I graduated from there in 2016, and the last few years, I was doing residences and working on exhibitions.”
Randall’s first love may have been painting, but today, he said he prefers sculpture and a mixed media approach. “I’m often thinking, the materials I am using have as much significance as what I am doing with them. I am thinking about them symbolically in some way.”
Arriving in Roswell, Randall had an idea about his exhibit and what he would be working on. However, the nature and his surroundings gradually changed his intent. “In previous years, a lot of it was rooted in researching material histories because of that interest in science and that background in chemistry. A lot of it was thinking, could I use the materials in a really metaphorical way? For instance, a piece that I did a couple years ago was a cast anvil, but it was cast out of aluminum and all the aluminum that I used to cast was sourced from contemporary tools and technologies like iPhones, backs of Mac Books and parts of ladders and cars that I melted down into liquid aluminum and then remade it as this anvil. I was thinking about that circular logic between antiquated technology and contemporary technology and the loop, what becomes useful or not, or what becomes obsolescent,” Randall said.
“Recently, it’s been changing. I’ve been moving away and started moving more toward an intuitive approach. They (his sculptures) start to become a little bit more of a snapshot of this place, the geography which I like,” Randall said.
Randall’s fascination with obsolescence and being drawn to the decay or entropy of material is part of his experience and will reflect in his upcoming exhibition. He said that he is influenced by the arid desert landscape after being surrounded by a lush green environment all his life. Part of the exhibit includes large sculptures of suitcases, after all, he said that he is a nomad, traveling from one residence to the other the last four years, honing his skills. “You start to get a bit of vertigo because you are always on the move. You don’t really have roots anywhere, which I think is part of this show,” Randall said.
Being at the RAiR studio has quieted Randall’s daily life in a substantial way. “Usually I read a lot,” he said. “A lot of my work stems from research, but with this, coming here, I felt the need to pull away from that — to not be influenced by other minds or thinkers or other thoughts and research and to really hone into something more intuitive.
“I love having that quiet place; to contemplate and concentrate and explore different things,” Randall said.
Asked about the unusual name of the exhibit, Randall said, “I used to work at the Met (Metropolitan Museum of Art) in New York, and I was always really fascinated by the tapestries in the cloisters. Whenever I would talk with the conservators there, they would always talk about these tapestries as these living objects because they had to be constantly under care and maintenance, and they had to be protected from the sun and humidity and oils from people touching them — the fibers are very fragile. I like the idea of they were the first paintings that could be moved. Prior to that, it would have been frescos, which would be painted directly on walls. You could relocate the tapestry — it could move with you — so it became this idea of a painting on wheels. I liked that connection between seeing something that had a link to something ancient like a tapestry and something more contemporary like a suitcase; I like that idea of a leg. They were to be originally paintings of the tapestry and one of the primary images I was working on is a set of legs that would be just really scaled up. The idea of the tapestry would zoom in and crop in certain types of the bodies, primarily legs, this idea of movement. Something about it just stuck, and I like that it doesn’t really make sense. As Pair Legged, is kind of an unusual phrase, I suppose I am drawn to the case that it doesn’t make sense.”
Randall said his lecture will touch on the concept of placelessness and feeling disoriented. “The things I will talk most about will be this idea of being a nomad and having a nomadic mind; and what that means when rooted in space, but also what that means when rooted in virtual space; the idea of escapism; this idea of constantly having your head somewhere else. We’re all being plugged in into our devices, and splitting our identities between different places at all times and creating how we are perceived. It’s this idea of jumbling and mashing together these kinds of weird concoctions of placelessness. The panels are flattened geography and flattened space,” Randall said.
Randall’s work has been exhibited at David & Schweitzer Contemporary, Brooklyn, New York; the El Paso Museum of Art, El Paso, Texas; Ditch Projects, Eugene, Oregon and the Museo de Arte de Ciudad Juárez in Mexico. He is the recipient of the Toby Devin Lewis Fellowship Award and has most recently participated in residencies at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, Maine; Sculpture Space, Utica, New York; the Fine Arts Work Center, Provincetown, Massachusetts and the Vermont Studio Center, Johnson, Vermont.
For more information about the artist, visit svrandall.com. For more information about his exhibit at the RMAC, visit roswell-nm.gov/1209/Roswell-Artist-in-Residence-SV-Randall or call 575-624-6744.