about the exhibition
New Works 00.2
June 08–July 16, 2000about the artist
Texas-based Margo Sawyer was born in 1958 in Washington, DC and was raised in London. She received her B.A. from the Chelsea School of Art in London and her M.F.A. in sculpture from Yale University. She is an Associate Professor of Sculpture at The University of Texas at Austin and founded and directs 1/4 Hora Project Space, an alternative space in Elgin, Texas.
Since the early 1980s, Sawyer has exhibited internationally, including solo exhibitions at P.S. 1, New York (1989); Barbara Toll Gallery, New York (1989, 1991); Women and Their Work, Austin (1992, 1999); Diverseworks Artspace, Houston (1994); Sagacho Exhibit Space, Tokyo (1996); GalleryGallery, Kyoto (1996); Austin Museum of Art (1998); and the Galveston Art Center, Galveston, TX (1999). Her participation in group exhibitions has included shows at the ICA London; Portland Art Museum; and Socrates Sculpture Park, New York. She is the recipient of numerous grants, notably fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts (1986); American Academy in Rome (1986-87); Art Matters Inc. (1987); Change, Inc. (1989); Arts International (1994); Fullbright (1982-83: India, 1995-96: Japan); and Japan Foundation (1996).
For much of her career, Margo Sawyer’s large-scale installations have emerged from observations of historic and contemporary sites of sacred architecture. She is interested in the relationship between space and transcendence as explored in Buddhism and Hinduism. From this research, Sawyer creates sculptural topographies that map a contemplative terrain that is part architecture and part landscape.
Margo Sawyer was selected for her ArtPace residency by the March 1998 panel consisting of Dan Cameron, Annette DiMeo Carlozzi, Amada Cruz, Kellie Jones, Hans-Ulrich Obrist and Nancy Rubins.
about the project
For ArtPace, Sawyer has concentrated on a single work, Ten + One Illuminations, that balances the theatricality of installation with the material traditions of sculpture. Upon entering the darkened gallery, the viewer navigates a field of circular forms, varying in size, which seem to hover above the floor. The interior of each object is gold leafed and lit from above with a dramatic spotlight. The result is an arrangement of almost blinding surfaces that bounce soft reflections throughout the gallery. As the viewer moves through the dream-like space, they become immersed in the radiance of the objects and the warmth of the reflections. Sawyer states, “In this mysterious landscape of light, I hope to create a sublime environment that is simultaneously tangible and intangible.”
With direct architectural references to the luminous interior of the Kinkaku-ji temple in Kyoto and to the sculptural floor of the Aholi temple in India, this installation expands on Sawyer’s interest in Eastern sacred spaces. The artist effectively presents a phenomenon of choices rather than a singular answer. The collective power of Sawyer’s objects and the mystery of their presence heighten Sawyer’s universal concerns.
Ten + One Illuminations is a logical progress of Sawyer’s previous work in which the viewer was on the periphery, looking in. Here, Sawyer’s installation is activated by the viewer’s presence, bringing the work even closer to the function of a sacred space. While visually dynamic, the work creates a contemplative space in which the optical effects of afterimage, reflection and surface transcend object-ness into the ephemeral.