BEHIND THE MASK: Sculpture Lives
November 6, 2021 - Devin Hardy
Kelly Carrol’s idea of bringing sculpture to life was conceived in the 70’s, when she and a friend hatched a plan to create a site-specific piece for MOMA’s sculpture garden in New York City. The proposal was turned down but over the course of the next 50 years, Kelly came up with multiple iterations of this concept in spaces such as the gardens of Central Park and sculpture parks in the Berkshires. None of these original ideas came to fruition. In 2019, Carrol visited Ted Gall’s workspace during the Open Studio Tour in Ojai, California. “I was walking up towards this open space between two studios with these incredible sculptures and trees in the background and sky and I just said to myself, “Oh my god, it’s a stage. Sculpture lives.”
Carrol had known Gall back in Chicago when they were teenagers, but after nearly 50 years of time, distance, and silence they reconnected, first around grief, and then around this concept. There were two years of setbacks, mostly due to COVID and funding, but “the energy of people involved propelled me forward,” Kelly said. Through a serendipitous connection to a local high school dance teacher through a friend in New York, the piece started to take shape, with three exceptionally talented high school students and two alumni of the Nordhoff High School cast as the performers.
“Where did these sculptures live before they came to be in bronze? Who were they before they were solid forms? Where would they take their lives now?” Kelly asked herself and her dancers. I want you to think of yourselves, not as “human beings, but as pieces of energy dropped from the cosmos into this space. You need to take on the life of the sculpture, you are channeling it’s spirit.” Carrol commented on how impressed she was with the students’ ability to transform and translate these esoteric concepts in to thoughtful, heartfelt, and spirited movements.
Though Ted Gall has worked with a variety of mediums over the years, his current focus is on bronze sculpture. “I intend for my sculpture to be intriguing, both visually and psychologically, to draw your imagination into the pieces themselves, allowing you to come to your own conclusions”. His pieces straddle a line between being whimsical and dark, drawing from cerebral cultural undercurrents that make them both familiar and strange. His primary, though not sole focus, is the human form but also the associations and narratives that shape not only our external, but our internal landscapes as well. It seems a match made in heaven for Carrol’s concept of bringing sculptures to life.
The piece was performed live twice a day for a 3-day run during the Open Studios Tour in 2021. The music was composed by Ray Powers, who also filmed and edited the piece as well. “The video became a version that was entirely its own art form,” Carrol said.
Diehl Gallery has represented Ted Gall for years and his work has been featured in numerous group shows and solo exhibitions.
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