As the first in what I hope is a regular series, I have collaborated with writer JJ Keith. As I am exploring more ideas into sculptural installations, I have asked JJ to bring her perspective to this new work. To see high resolution images of this installation, please visit my shutterfly albums.
Nasoki Box Installation, 2012, acrylic on folded paper, size variable
Marion Wesson, Nasoki Box Installation
By JJ Keith
In her new installations, Marion Wesson takes her paintings, with all their vibrant urgency, off the gallery wall and scatters them on the ground as if they were deposited by thousands of years of history. Wesson’s previous work presented abstract images in an aggressively manipulated color palette and was marked by a defiant refusal to let the whims of culture impinge upon her point of view. Now she’s further subverting the historically enshrined sanctity of a canvas by folding it into a six-sided bastard of itself and throwing it on the floor.
Her new series, Nasoki, was named after the Macedonian word for “directions,” because Macedonian doesn’t have the double meanings of the English word; nasoki describes only trajectories, not commands. Wesson doesn’t mandate how her art should be experienced or commodified, but reveals the spray of planes and vectors that comprise her robustly angular world. The results are immersive landscapes, ones that cast off the conventions of two-dimensional paintings and emerge in a new and more ambiguous space.
Nasoki Box Installation Detail 1, 2012
Nasoki richly explores the gradual construction of complexity, a probable result of the artists’ recent move, along with her family, from the relatively immature Los Angeles to Valencia, Spain, a succulent doyenne among Europe’s great cities. Wesson’s installations resonate with Valencia’s frenzy of Juliet balconies, crooked intersections, earthen tones, and verdant ironwork, providing a glimpse into the haphazard, but orthodontic clustering of the august city’s structures. The beating heart of Nasoki is the suffusion of a new awareness of history, a byproduct of the ancientness underfoot as Wesson walks her young daughters to school in Valencia’s historic Russafa neighborhood.
Nasoki Box Installation Detail 2, 2012
To evoke Valencia’s delicate order and geometry, Wesson marries her interests in painting and sculpture. Using many layers of thin washes of acrylic paint, she recreates the tones of Spanish tile on cotton paper then folds the paper into boxes. Once assembled, she lets her burgeoning sense of the organic complexity of history guide the deposition of boxes. Wesson began her days at RISD as a sculpture major before switching to painting. That moment of inchoate waffling has matured into an open-armed embrace of the interdisciplinary nature of installation art, and an extraordinary take on traditional landscape painting.
By creating living and breathing landscapes that are saturated by the slowly accruing splendor of history as seen through fresh eyes, Wesson exposes an enticing paradox between innovation and antiquity.
Nasoki Box Installation Detail 3, 2012
JJ Keith’s writing has appeared online at Salon, Babble, Alternet PopMatters, and others. She’s contributed copy to dozens of commercial websites and ghostwritten for several clients. After getting her Masters of Professional Writing degree from the University of Southern California, she stayed on as a freshman writing instructor for three years. She lives in Los Angeles with her husband and two toddlers.