© 2021 Erica Stoller

I’ve been paying close attention to the wires and cables, from pole to pole, our ever-present roadside companions. Telephone poles. Utility poles. My sculpture reflects these basic elements of the landscape in configurations that include loops, knots, tangles, the confusions and bypasses often indicating repairs to outdated copper phone lines. Power and communication cables as well. This work continues my ongoing interest in of color, line, and tension.

The hanging pieces, made of common, repurposed, industrial materials, refer to the horizontal lines of unseen scenery. This is the vital utility infrastructure, in plain sight, yet often overlooked until essential services are interrupted.

Recent installation, trying to climb out of the studio, off the wall and right onto the utility poles, includes a series of horizontal strips that may be installed individually or “woven” in reference to the “real” wires and cables.

In the summer of 2019, power lines were especially apt after my participation in the Symposium d’Art Contemporain de Baie-Saint-Paul, Quebec. The high tension lines of HydroQuebec are ever-present in the landscape there and my work was very much at home. 

Covid-19 and social distancing influenced the current work with the concept of a walking stick, used vertically as one moves along, step by step, and then extended horizontally to indicate a safe zone: At least 6 feet, please. One is a staff, and the plural, staves. The smaller elements worked into a   series of Coup Sticks; horizontally, they are Benchmarks. “Make” is always the operative verb here. And these days, working in isolation, “make do” defines the materials and their handling.

The available “palette” may include PEX plastic plumbing tubes, foam insulation, parachute cord, cable ties, bead chain, wire rope, and metal connectors. These light, colorful hanging elements hover and move slightly with the air currents; knots and attachments are visible parts of the finished work. The sculptures may hang on walls or span open spaces, indoors or out. The forms and their shadows move slightly with the air currents, often with some clicking and scratching sounds. Found and recycled materials, cartons, crates and shipping tubes, are showing up in the recent pieces. Recycling plastic is one thing. Avoiding it is another. We'll see....

While the sculpture is made of impersonal hardware store elements, the selection and assembly bear the mark of decision-making and handwork. There’s a calligraphic element to the line, drawn from point to point. Along with the lively presence, there are elements of ambiguity. What is this made of? How are the pieces held together? And are the shadows part of the work? And what is the point?

The larger message is Look Around! Paying attention to the scenery of wires and cables brings to mind electricity and communication.  Less visible is the underground infrastructure: water in, sewage out. Where does it come from? Where does it go? Our expectations are enormous, and we take so much for granted.