The Chair Project The Chair Project began with a bridge, a chair, and a plan. The plan was to gather twenty eight-inch black and white photographs of the white chair and mount them in 16” x 16” black frames for a show in the following calendar year. I experimented with a variety of approaches to making meaning by placing the chair in different and diverse contexts.
My placements of the chair were playful, nonsense, opportunistic, spontaneous, improvisational, planned, and, occasionally, Plan B rescues. I responded to and incorporated specific locations, times of day, weather conditions, and found objects. The chair appears in several different roles, sometimes in more than one in the same picture.
The chair can appear as
In answering these questions, we discover layers of narrative texts. We discover what can be said with a small white chair. Several photos are answers to the question, “What if . . .?” “What would happen if I take a very large piece of fabric to the very windy Prickly Pear Creek Fishing Area?” or “What if I wrap the chair in shrink wrap and then hang it in a tree, wedge it between rocks, or throw it in a creek?” Perhaps, because I had to rush into the creek to keep the chair from making an unplanned trip further downstream, I have included that image in this collection.
Among the abstract shapes I found visually enjoyable were the large trapezoid of the bridge from a forced perspective, the rhythm of the steps and the asymmetry of the handrails at the cathedral on a snowy evening, and the black and white patterns of the sunlight passing through the blinds at the Center at Lincoln Rehabilitation in Denver. My interest was in how the bands of sun and shade broke up the form of the chair. I saw no emotional narrative until recently, when Diane, who has had a dozen operations, said, “I feel sliced up like that.” Then I changed the title to reflect a new depth to the image.
“Will Sit for Art” is a successful, planned image. When I leave the Target parking lot there is always a person asking for financial aid on the island. I wondered if I should photograph them sitting in the chair. Or, should the chair take their place? If the chair is asking for help what would it offer in return? One night, I realized it was snowing, scrawled a sign and rushed out to capture the photograph.
In these various methods for capturing an image, my goal is to create an image that has generous space for the viewer to play, to think, to feel and an image that is visually enjoyable, or ambiguous, or funny, or nonsense, or part of a story you recognize or do not recognize.
In 2019 The Chair Project was was supported by funds from the Myrna Loy Grants to Artists Program, Helena, Montana.