Wojick work to show at Portland gallery

Amanda Wojick (photo by Rappaport)
Amanda Wojick (photo by Rappaport)

Amanda Wojick, an associate professor of art and head of the sculpture program at the University of Oregon, will have her new work featured in a solo show at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery in Portland from March 7 through March 20.

There will be a First Thursday opening reception from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on March 7.

Her exhibition consists of a series of 12 welded steel sculptures, each painted a different solid color. The sculptures are made of hundreds of hand-cut steel blossom silhouettes, welded to “prickly angular structures that are human scaled.”

Wojick usually creates art that is “intentionally fragile,” using ordinary materials such as paint chips, linoleum flooring, Band-Aids, polystyrene and various kinds of paper to create small and large abstract sculptures and drawings. But she added welded steel to her palette about 18 months ago, creating art she characterizes as “firmly situated in the world of permanence and durability.”

Her sculpture and works on paper are inspired by the natural world and contain wit and playfulness. Her latest work takes a similar tack, but with a different edge – literally.

“I am interested in how (my new) series relates to my previous work in that it still appears somewhat structurally vulnerable – some of the pieces even appear to be leaning to the point of tipping over – and the work still has a handmade and DIY sensibility,” she says.

Junctions are imprecise, edges are rough and irregular, and welds are visible, but the compositions are “fixed, secure, and irreversible.”

Her steel sculptures at the Elizabeth Leach Gallery, which has represented her for the past decade, reflect her creative spatial exploration over time.

“An ongoing visual concern of mine is the intersection of two- and three-dimensional space," she says. "This body of work engages this conversation as well, but from a completely different standpoint than previous works. While I have often used tilted planes, I have never done so in a way that completely emphasizes such an openness of form and space.”

Wojick decided to sculpt the blossoms in steel “largely because in order for them to look like they do – fragile, irregular, light, open and intensely angular – and still be structurally sound, they couldn’t be made in any other way.”

The forms not only mark a new visual territory for her, “what is even more interesting is how literal shifts in my own perspective make this work possible," she says.

"Rather than using imaginary or speculative points of departure as I have in the past, I am now engaged with my immediate and observable surroundings,” Wojick says.

The steel blossoms are coated with auto-body paint, which layers the fragile subject of the work with another aspect of durability beyond their basis in steel.

“Welded sculpture occupies a particular place within the history of 20th Century art, specifically in the context of Modernism,” Wojick says. “Filling an entire gallery with steel in the year 2013 is a little scary, but the vision I have for the installation has remained strong and clear.”

Wojick’s work is included in the permanent collection of the Portland Art Museum, Tacoma Art Museum and many private collections. She has had recent exhibitions in Oregon, New York, Ohio, Toronto, Washington and Florida. She has received awards and grants from Sculpture Space, the Oregon Arts Commission, University of Oregon, Ragdale Foundation, Portland Art Museum, Alfred University and Bard College.

The Elizabeth Leach Gallery, 417 N.W. 9th Avenue in Portland’s Pearl District, 503-224-0521, is open 10:30 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday and by appointment.

- from UO School of Architecture and Allied Arts