Ca­ley Den­nis Artist

Pasatiempo - - PASATIEMPOS -

Orig­i­nally from Toledo, Ohio, artist Ca­ley Den­nis has been liv­ing and work­ing in Santa Fe for the past few years. In May, she com­pleted her bach­e­lor’s de­gree in fine arts from the Santa Fe Univer­sity of Art and De­sign, where she re­ceived the Jeremy Thomas Sculp­ture Award in 2014. Since grad­u­at­ing, Ca­ley’s been keep­ing busy work­ing two jobs and set­ting aside time on the week­ends to make her art.

She works with con­crete, metal, and other build­ing ma­te­ri­als to cre­ate min­i­mal­ist sculp­tures that ex­plore ideas of space and empti­ness. “I’m in­ter­ested in whether empti­ness in­her­ently has this tension or con­no­ta­tion, if you will, of the need to be filled,” Ca­ley, twenty-four, told Pasatiempo. “I’ve al­ways been at­tracted to sculp­ture and the three-di­men­sional world. Strangely enough, I’ve started to draw re­cently. But my first love was sculp­ture.”

Ca­ley fabri­cates sculp­ture marked by a con­sis­tent use of cir­cu­lar forms and round holes. “I think sculp­ture in­her­ently deals with space and neg­a­tive space. I’ve definitely taken in­flu­ence from the min­i­mal­ists and the land artists like Michael Heizer. I think aca­dem­i­cally deal­ing with sculp­ture and what it is and what it isn’t prob­a­bly led me to the for­mal as­pects of space, and the metaphor­i­cal as­pects fol­lowed.”

The void spa­ces in her works are con­tained, or framed, by the sculp­tural forms. Whether they are con­crete slabs or wheel-like welded metal shapes, empti­ness lies at their cen­ter in the form of a hole or con­cave de­pres­sion. On her web­site, she writes that her prac­tice “in­ves­ti­gates the ques­tion of whether or not an ob­ject can con­vey empti­ness more than empti­ness it­self.” Ca­ley looks on void space as full of la­tent pos­si­bil­ity. “The void has modal force,” she writes, “im­ply­ing the po­ten­tial, and some­times need, to be filled. It is of­ten this dis­com­fort, this long­ing for what is lack­ing, that acts as cat­a­lyst in many univer­sal pro­cesses, as well as my per­sonal process of making work.”

While in school, Ca­ley worked in the stu­dio of sculp­tor Tom Joyce, but she has since left to take a po­si­tion at SITE Santa Fe. As the pub­lic pro­grams as­sis­tant, she works with di­rec­tor of ed­u­ca­tion Joanne Le­frak. “I started work­ing here at SITE and I couldn’t bal­ance all of it, so I let Tom go,” she said. “It was a great ex­pe­ri­ence to be in his stu­dio to help and also to be able to ob­serve how an­other artist works and ob­serve his process and how he uses ma­te­ri­als. I think I definitely took some in­flu­ence away from Tom.”

At SITE, Ca­ley or­ga­nizes pub­lic lec­tures and other events, and she also works part time at the Mad Framer with pro­pri­etor Beth Hill. “It’s a nice bal­ance of work­ing in a large group in a mu­seum and then fab­ri­cat­ing for Beth and making cus­tom wood frames. I’m learn­ing a lot from work­ing with her, but I have not had a lot of wood­work­ing ex­pe­ri­ence be­fore work­ing with her — mostly metal.”

She is a process-ori­ented artist. The wooden frames used as jigs for making her sculp­tures have their own vis­ual ap­peal. “I kind of con­sider them draw­ings,” Ca­ley said. “They start to ac­quire weld­ing spat­ter and ev­i­dence of the process of putting metal pieces to­gether. But they are not draw­ings in the tra­di­tional sense. They are 3-D draw­ings.”

Ca­ley has a home and stu­dio in a ware­house space off Air­port Road. Skilled with con­struc­tion ma­te­ri­als, she built her­self a loft and shower in the space. She still works with con­crete but has re­cently been ex­plor­ing draw­ing as a medium, in­spired by a trip through Ari­zona. “My in­ter­est was first sparked when I was com­ing back from Flagstaff, Ari­zona. I was driv­ing back from Phoenix. We passed Me­teor Crater, I think it’s called, and I didn’t go but I’d like to some­day.” The forms of im­pact craters are her cur­rent fo­cus and re­late con­cep­tu­ally to her sculp­tural prac­tice. “Look­ing at my con­crete re­lief pieces that have a cen­tral hole in them, I re­al­ized that the forms I’m so at­tracted to ex­ist in na­ture al­ready in the form of craters,” she said. “The dis­place­ment of mat­ter around an im­pact crater, the com­paction of it, in­ter­ests me. I’m still work­ing with cast­ing con­crete and with draw­ing, but I’m not cur­rently work­ing with metal.” — Michael Abatemarco


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