"Site Singularity"; Suzanna Fields, J.T. Kirkland and Sean Lundgren; The Bridge/PAI, through September 25

The walls are alive at The Bridge this month, colonized by forms from Suzanna Fields, J.T. Kirkland and Sean Lundgren crafted specifically to meld with the venue’s sparse main room. Their conceptual creations demand a sturdy attention span, but look closely and your patience will be rewarded. 

At one end, Richmond’s Fields coated the drywall with globs of acrylic that fuse in shimmering hues like some kid’s Little Mermaid cup melted in a microwave. Drops of translucent black, white, blue and pink emerge into a tall figure that could be a bird, a person, a duck-billed platypus or something in-between. The artist calls it “Raven.”

Get close—careful not to trample the drops on the floor—and explore the thousands of transparent colors the overlapping drips create, each reflecting the gallery’s simple canister lights or the flitting glimpses of traffic on Avon Street outside. Together they give off the kind of inviting plastic shine that compels people to dip their hands into piles of buttons at craft stores.

Similarly, it pays to get close and move around when examining “Carry the Load” by Kirkland of Washington, D.C. Walk in the door, and it doesn’t look like anything. A row of bare studs positioned below the gallery’s ceiling joists could be mistaken for an unfinished wall. It takes a minute to notice that the artist made several identical cuts across each plank that let little bits of light cross through them when viewed from the side. You might also notice that what you thought were two-by-fours actually stick out by only 3 inches, as if part of the piece was embedded in the wall. That two-by-fours, they aren’t actually attached to the ceiling or the floor. The wood doesn’t support anything. Like most worthwhile abstract art, it exists solely for its own sake. Along with the other two pieces that share the space, it will be destroyed and recycled when the exhibit closes.

By now you’ve gathered that “Site Singularity,” facilitated by local curator Leah Stoddard, isn’t for those who like art that’s easy to explain. But viewers who enjoy a mental challenge will relish the installation by Lundgren. Artists always struggle to make their material conform to their vision, but the D.C. sculptor takes an ingenious turn and allows the medium to prevail. He’s piled up gobs of raw, unglazed clay, the colors of adobe, rain-slicked concrete and dirty linen. As planned, chunks of “Screen” already have crashed to the floor. Cracks show where more will fall away any day now, and what remains of the piece bears the violent marks of the artist’s fingers and shoes. Like a slovenly brawl in a tavern parking lot that instantly attracts a crowd, this piece draws us in to watch the sculptor pick a nasty fight with 9,600 pounds of clay. It’s great fun to watch him lose.

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