Materials seen in our everyday lives such as wood, plaster and insulation were manipulated in “Constructions,” Rowan University Art Gallery’s most recent exhibit.
The March 22 reception featured work from sculpting professor Charles Tucker, who began his journey into aesthetic space after repairing a turn-of-the-century home. While peeling away old vinyl siding and asbestos, Tucker uncovered material he was unfamiliar with. After a trip to a local lumber company, he discovered redwood, a wood commonly used during the 1970s-90s.
“I started to understand and research houses from that time period and what they were actually made out of and I began to understand that there was this whole group of materials that were taken from the forest at the turn of the last century,” Tucker said. “For example, the Redwood Forest — 97 percent of it has been cut down, no longer exists, only three percent.”
The wooden panels lining the gallery walls were made of redwood, Douglas fir, southern yellow pine, northern fir and other hardwoods, as well as plaster once used in homes and buildings. No titles or descriptive texts accompanied the abstract art. Instead, it stood alone, leaving the art to the viewer’s interpretation, said Mary Salvante, Gallery and Exhibitions program director.
“I think his [Tucker's] work is stunning and is a terrific example of the kinds of quality professionalism that our faculty has in the Art Department,” Salvante said. “It’s a great example of someone who really understands material, who understands formal concepts in abstract work that has to do with size, volume and space.”
Senior fine arts major Marlena Hirshfield attended the reception and reflected on the architecture and its stability.
“These are dying art forms in terms of architecture,” Hirshfield said. “You don’t see the insulation and the paneling the way that this has been done anymore in terms of buildings. Here, Chuck Tucker has been taking that and using wood that’s actually been used to demolish a lot of the forest. It’s kind of a balance in terms of we’re losing art form and we’re also losing forests at the same time, so what do we save?”
Tucker wanted to find a more creative and resourceful use for the pieces of old buildings and chopped down trees.
“What I’m interested in is getting students to understand sensitivity to the materials around them and the world around them and how the small moments really make up important things in our lives if we take the time to notice them,” Tucker said. “And being aware and noticing our world in that way makes for, I think, a more interesting world.”
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