Three black-silver columns are installed in the white cube gallery at the Lannan Foundation in Santa Fe, NM. Two are six feet tall and about ten inches wide and are placed almost in two opposite corners of the space. Almost, because they do not touch the perpendicular wall, a tense space of an inch between the opaque graphite column and the wall. Neither do they touch the floor. Suspended from the fourteen foot ceiling of the gallery, is a third column weighing more than eight hundred pounds and reaching almost to the floor.
The sculptures, by New Mexico artist Susan York, are an homage to minimalism, but the chosen material is graphite, a classical tool used by artists for centuries to create drawings. More specifically, “3 Columns” is inspired by Dan Flavin’s “The nominal three (to William Ockham)” an installation of three vertical fluorescent light fixtures. Ockham, was a 14th century theologian, who wrote that “entities should not be multiplied unnecessarily.” York’s study of the distillation of these multiple forms and their relationship to space echoes Ockham’s edict.
But more than that, the graphite columns also explore the idea of materiality and the embodiment of form and their relationship to space and gravity. “3 Columns” is shown along with “Tilted Column,” a 70-inch high, 14-inch wide, 15-inch deep graphite column and its corresponding “Tilted Column” drawing an 8-foot by 4-foot graphite drawing framed and leaning against a wall in the hallway outside the gallery.
The surfaces of the graphite forms are richly modulated and highly polished to a silvery finish. Graphite is a conductor of electricity, perhaps that is why York’s sculptures seem to resonate with an almost spiritual energy and beauty.
If you go:
Through August 3
Lannan Foundation Gallery
309 Read Street
Santa Fe, NM 87501