Body and Place
J. Lynn Campbell
March 22 - May 18, 2008
We’re pleased to present a ten year survey of the two-dimensional and sculptural work Lynn Campbell has been making in three ongoing projects: Evocations, Imprints and Modern Model Forms.
You will see that Campbell’s work connects her imagination with ours. Her images emerge from a place where intuition and symbols are given equal weight, balancing a carefully controlled set of ideas with a deep felt set of beliefs. In so doing, she knows that the possibility exists that you or I will have a different encounter, a different range of imaginings, each based on the sum total of who we are. This realm of autonomous subjects and overlapping imaginations is best explored with care: too much autonomy will let us drift apart; too narrow an expression will box us in.
Campbell achieves exactly this balance with her carefully crafted images. Her control is evident in the repetitious, almost mechanical, elements that go into her work. Wire and sinew are painstakingly wrapped around iconic natural objects, pulling them into the world of manufacturing. Wire fabric is stitched into cast shapes, somewhere between garments and skin, but again invoking a manipulation reminiscent of medieval attempts to armor the body or Harvey’s exploration of its internal workings. Layers and layers of material and meaning are overlaid in her print-like constructions: from washers, screws and grommets, to linen, paper and silver leaf.
But through all of this we perceive a vulnerability, a transparency in the forms and figures which allows us to go deep inside the image and a rupture is created by the isolation of body parts: torsos with no heads; hand prints and foot prints are all that remain of a previous person’s encounter with the work. This juxtaposition parallels the one between ideas and beliefs, what Campbell refers to as stemming from “an empirical investigation of the external environment and the internal/subjective space.” Operating between philosophy and a secular spirituality, she is able to position the work as both a study of the nature of subjectivity and an expression of sympathy, generosity and faith.
In this, Campbell relies on the image of the body as a garment for the soul, somewhere between, as Lyn Carter put it, a house and a prison. In Modern Model Forms #8, Campbell has created a Daedalus/Icarus-like figure based on a dressmakers’ form popularly dubbed ‘Judy.’ Bedecked in a tight fitting dress of feathers, metallic paint and wire, she seems ready to spread her wings and fly. In this striking image, Campbell “invites the viewer, as a medium of perception/sensation, to interpret how the subject intimates itself in the work/issue of the imagination.” If we accept her invitation we will be the richer for it.