Current Conceptual Territory

This is a collection of work in progress by artist John L. Mueller of La Grande, OR.

Wednesday, January 9, 2008

Worry Ball

This is a recent piece that is an example of a "chain of events" evolution of an idea. To a degree, it could be said that all works of art embody the progression of the thought process of the artist and material events that inevitably take place in the course of their creation, but I got a real kick out of this one.
I was getting a haircut one day when I noticed and began to consider a roll around drawer caddy of the barbers. It was the cheap plastic wal mart variety, but what got my attention was the labels on the individual drawers. They were the classic, self adhesive, all capital letter, embossed plastic type.
I began to think about them for what they are rather than what they say. These labels are iconic, ubiquitous and loaded. I was careening off into the thought. There is an expectation, even a responsibility for them to clearly indicate content or function. This is the immediate thought upon seeing them, even before reading them.
I've never been a fan of "text based" art. It seems to me to be a tedious if not treacherous, worn out territory that I have never been interested in pursuing. Still, there was something about the conceptual gravity and potential for mischief that I was detecting in the everyday embossed label that I couldn't resist. I went straight to wal mart and purchased one of the hand held stampers that creates them.
I went the studio, unpackaged it, loaded a roll of the label material, and sat there for awhile thinking "Now what?" I began clicking out labels with words like-
As the pile grew, I noticed that they were all curved from being dispensed off of a roll. I began peeling the backings off and sticking them to themselves. The result was a small sphere about the size of a golf ball. As I handled it, rolling it around in my fingers to read the words, I realized that a hilarious yet profound thing had just happened. The nervous, fidgety hand movement required to read the words on the ball does, in fact, bear a striking relationship to their meaning. It was as if the labels had somehow fulfilled their own purpose in spite of me. In honor of this, I created a clean, triangular shelf with a concave top to nestle it in, and I had a new piece.

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