Terry Albright graduated Massachusetts College of Art in 1982 but she had been admiring, examining and observing natural materials for far longer. Emanating from this interest, Albright built an artistic practice at the intersection of the natural and the fabricated. She passed away this past December and this exhibition serves both as a memorial and a celebration of the works she made in the last three years of her life.
To make her works, along with traditional adhesives, paints and supports, Albright used materials found in the wild, purchased from farmers and, most significantly, grown herself; this forms the heart of the works currently on display.
When one grows something, one has to pay close attention and continuously question—How much water is it getting? How much sun is it getting? Is it growing? Is it shrinking? Is its development complete? Is there more to come? These create a relationship and situation where the grower—in this case, Albright—knows her material.
This knowledge gives her the ability and confidence to sculpt with complete awareness. Certain sculptures have moments where the form is an echo of its previous life or the materials are left almost fully as they were and thus the materials are instantly legible. Other works are altered beyond recognition, either through cutting, reassembly and painting or sensitive reforming and decontextualisation. The techniques used in these works form the cornerstones of Albright's practice by showing the respect paid both to the natural materials and the boundless possibilities of the creative mind.
Staunchly placed between the extremes of these techniques are the works that form the bulk of the past decade of work—'shards' (as Albright calls them) of gourds. Some of the gourds' surfaces are preserved, others have been superficially treated and some deeply altered. Some sit on pedestals, others hang on walls. Some are solid, stolid and dense. Others are incredibly light, open and full of undulations. In all of these, the gourds are legible as gourds, yet have new lives.
Albright has respected their pasts, imbued them with her vision and, now with this exhibition, set them forth into the world. Albright's work is full of control, respect and serenity, and simultaneously conveys creativity, inquisitiveness, inventiveness, joy and liveliness. While she is deeply missed by her community of admirers, family and friends, Terry Albright lives on her works.
Press release courtesy Krakow Witkin Gallery.