ART PAGE ONE
FIFTY-SIX, FEBRUARY 1, 2001
(Copyright © 2001 Al Aronowitz)
THE CONTEMPORARY SCULPTURES
Born in Saigon in 1968, Darlene Nguyen-Ely’s life inher own country
was short lived. In 1975 at the age of seven, Darlene joined scores of other Vietnamese "boat people" seeking refuge from
the war. After
spending a year at a refugee camp in Hong Kong, she immigrated to the United States. Nguyen-Ely's sculptures have been based on the structure of boats and airplanes are, most obviously informed by her
pilgrimage to America. In some of her work, she joins traditional and high tech materials, tiny computer-manipulated images rest inside wood sculptures that she molds into shape with.
Her new work consists of simple, eccentric shapes created by constructing wood skeletons, coating them with a translucent skin of fiberglass and/or thin wood strips. The sculpted objects immediately call to mind a wide range of natural forms from bean pods and insect bodies to the bodies and wings of flying creatures.
Earlier forms derived from boats and airplanes are also much in evidence: rudders, sails, fuselages, and the hulls of fishing vessels. Metaphors for birth, flight and motion are easily read into these forms. The skeletal structure of spruce and poplar bentwood seen through the amber coating of fiberglass attests to careful craftsmanship.
For more examples of Darlene's work, please visit the following websites:
Artistic Statement: While working on earlier pieces that dealt with images of movement, I became interested in the structure of the ships and airplanes that symbolize travel. After breaking down these machines to their basic components I noticed a similarity to the basic building block of animal and plant life, the cell. The simple elegant forms of multi-cell plants and animals seem a natural extension of earlier transportation forms. This combination of machine and biologically inspired forms opens a greater freedom to explore shapes since nature seems to always be more imaginative in its choice of forms, connecting cells together in playful spirals, rings and
zig-zags. The new organic forms retain the original streamlined feel through the use of smooth sleek surfaces and geometrically precise details. The journey can now measured in terms of scale and evolution as well as
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