We are delighted to present a recent large-scale sculpture installation by Jean Blackburn, titled “Feed.” This new work continues Blackburn’s decadeslong examination of form, function, and the shape-shifting of familiar objects. In her sculptures, often made from found objects and furniture, she patiently cuts, carves, or chips away at an existing form, destabilizing it before using the resulting elements to assemble new forms.
“Feed” is constructed from twelve tables that are stacked or attached to each other in various ways. Some lean on others. Some slide together. Others pierce holes. Material is cut from the tables and milled into strips that are used to create a rectilinear meander that penetrates but unites the tables. Suggestive of rooms, architecture, diagrams, hierarchies, and relationships, this meander creates a weave of interconnections and dependencies.
A table provides a surface for an exchange to take place or an activity to occur. It can define a communal space. We sit around a table. The family dining table or the kitchen table is at the heart of the home. As the site of holidays, gatherings of friends or family, the pleasures of dining and conversation, the table comes to represent bonds, community, family, sustenance, negotiation, and sharing. But a table can also be a footstool, a desk, a chopping block, a make-up table or nesting tables, enabling various activities and hierarchies.
“Additional tables, built at the scale of models or toys will be incorporated into the configuration. Several circular pieces cut from the tables will be turned into wooden plates or bowls. While providing a site for consumption, some parts of the tables are also eaten away, preyed upon. Some things are nurtured or echoed in delicate structures; others are plundered for material or left to wither. Materials grow into each other; new structures emerge at the cost of older ones. The boundaries of an object’s definition interest me most. I push my objects until they are on the verge of a multitude of other possibilities.”
Writing about Blackburn’s 2017 sculpture and installation, “Warp,” Abraham Adams writes “…[w]here another artist might have separated the elements into autonomous, salable sculptures, this work appears intended just for this sort of encounter with an audience, rather than for Instagram–then–freeport afterlives—as if to match the disappearance of the unremunerated gendered labors native to its subject matter.” (Artforum)
Blackburn holds a BFA from the Rhode Island School of Design and an MFA from Yale School of Art, Yale University. Her work has been included in exhibitions at the DeCordova Museum, the Brooklyn Museum, the Aldrich Museum, the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, and the Neuberger Museum. Her work is included in the permanent collections of the Tang Museum, the Mint Museum, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum, and numerous private collections. She currently teaches at RISD and lives and works in Rhode Island.