Boise Weekly

Boise Weekly Logo“Art After the Isms: Northwest artists and the new sculpture”
by Christopher Schnoor
Boise Weekly, 12/17/2008

It rained for a solid four months inside the Boise Art Museum this year, a steady downpour of weirdly acrobatic precipitation, capturing and materializing shafts of sunlight during cloud breaks, haunting the place at night. At least, that is how it seemed while Idaho artist Gerri Sayler’s site-specific installation, Ad Infinitum, graced BAM’s Sculpture Court.

Upon closer inspection, the transparent, loopy strands of solidified glue, so responsive to air currents and human presence, assumed a lightweight, zany energy. The work was elemental, ethereal, playful, even spiritual; all characteristics we have been seeing more and more of in sculpture recently. As with a number of works that have inhabited this space for lengthy periods, when Ad Infinitum closed, we felt a sense of loss, evidence that it had touched something within us that is apparently starved for attention.

… Moscow artist Sayler, whose fiber and bamboo sculptures in the Idaho Triennial earned her the juror’s first prize, which included this year’s solo exhibition at BAM, also makes note of this new aesthetic when speaking of the transition to her large-scale installation, Ad Infinitum, which is her first. Her wall piece in the Triennial, entitledPotentia, was a sculpted mass of unraveled rope fibers set in cast acrylic that evoked the Western landscape that inspired it. Similarly, the long strands of solidified hot glue in Ad Infinitum also curled as they unraveled like the earlier rope fibers, echoing the rolling topography of north Idaho’s Palouse and the North Dakota grasslands of her past.

The grid work configuration of the ceiling panels anchoring the piece, and the architectonics of the space itself, stood in contrast to the unruliness of the strands, a metaphor for the messiness of organic matter in the face of intellectually imposed order. Perhaps most importantly, the installation process gave her the opportunity, on a grand scale, to continue her emphasis on repetitive hand work: “women’s work,” as it has traditionally been known. For Sayler, reconnecting with the sense of touch, the imprint of the human hand, is a prerequisite for making sculpture relevant again. Despite its size and environmental aspect, Ad Infinitum was in large part about the details.