Lou Lynn: Retro-Active

Retro-Active is an exhibition of sculpture that documents and celebrates the past 20 years of Lou Lynn’s art career. Her stalwart dedication to creative process has resulted in an exceptional body of work where she has masterfully combined her chosen materials in a manner that draws attention to their inherent qualities. The fragility, strength and…

2008 Dec 06 – 2008 Feb 07

Curated by Helen Sebelius

The opportunity to work closely with an artist in the preparation of a mid-career exhibition is no less than rewarding. As curator for Retro-active I held the privileged position of being both explorer and discoverer as I found my way through nearly twenty years of Lou Lynn’s art practice. While her sculpture has, more or less, undergone regular evolutions since 1990, her unwavering commitment to materials, ideas and processes, and contemporary art practice has not faltered. Our extensive conversations were like utterances that guided me through distinct bodies of work and onto the selection of sculpture that makes up Retro-active.

Lynn masterfully combines materials in a manner that draws attention to their inherent qualities. The point at which the fragility, strength and optical properties of glass meet with the durability of metal speaks about the tension that exists between her chosen materials. This juxtaposition does not stop at the point of contrasting material properties, but quickly moves onto the place where beauty of form takes shape through Lynn’s creative sensibilities. The relationship of material properties to material sensibility suggests that Lynn’s sculpture can be placed within modernist/formalist practice. With further discussion and regular visits to her studio and home, this isolated location began to dissolve and give way to another view of Lynn’s sculpture.

Throughout the 1990’s Lynn makes reference to equipment or implements such as the wheel or ulu where function is clearly stated through design. The work completed during that period carries with it a timeless aesthetic. As evolution would have it, her investigations moved her away from the pure coolness of modernism and toward a practice that embraced her particular view and fascination with design and utility. That fascination is evident in (by) the collections of rare hand tools and domestic paraphernalia that sit prominently in her studio and home. Displayed as artifacts the tools, with their peculiar and whimsical qualities, offered inspiration in her later work where she questions the dubious function of hand tools in a time when hand-work and longevity fall second to machine-made and throw-away.

During the past two decades Lou Lynn’s conscientious explorations have led her through a variety of technical processes suited to both glass and metal. Sand casting, highly refined lost-wax methods, blown glass, flame work and cold work are amongst her extensive vocabulary. Working on her own, or with other’s technical expertise, Lynn has carefully orchestrated a body of work that speaks a language decisively situated within contemporary craft and sculpture milieus.

Lou Lynn

Lou Lynn began exploring the sculptural potential of glass in the mid 1980s and attributes her interest in the use of glass as a sculptural medium to the frequent periods of study she undertook at the Pilchuck Glass School, in Stanwood, WA. Lynn’s sculpture has been exhibited nationally and internationally and can be found in numerous public collections and has been a visiting artist and taught workshops at numerous institutions.

Lou Lynn is widely regarded for the work she has done to assist artists to market their work. She taught Professional Practices at the Kootenay School of the Arts for 14 years and delivered over 80 workshops on the subject across Canada. She was the lead author of the “Marketing Guide to Fine Craft in the US,” and of “Marketing Northwest Coast Native Arts & Crafts”. Lynn and a colleague were responsible for the Beyond Borders – Craft Marketing Conferences held in Nelson, BC and Fredericton, NB. Lou Lynn lives and maintains a studio in Winlaw, British Columbia.

Artist Statement

Inspiration for my work has been drawn from architecture, as well as archaeological and industrial artifacts. My explorations in this current body of work ¾ Implements & Objects ¾ reveal abstract forms that reference both the functional and aesthetic aspects of antiquated hand tools.

For me it is fascinating to ponder the inherent qualities of old hand tools and contrast them with today’s plastic and metal tools that are bereft of anything that implies the hand of the maker and that have been stripped down, reflecting the requirements of cost-efficient manufacturing.

I am interested in combining the fragility, strength and optical properties of glass, with bronze, to create contemporary forms that involve a juxtaposition of contrasting materials and that express the tension that exists between strength and fragility.

Hours & Locations

The Nelson Museum is located in beautiful downtown Nelson, British Columbia.


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