Winsor’s first solo museum exhibition since 1997 opens with a to-scale photograph of Burnt Piece. The artist constructed a wood and concrete cube and set it ablaze, using one of the most potent natural agents, fire, to introduce radical change and risk into the process. The completion of this work by means of a destructive act addresses her interest in unifying the known and the unknown.
The exhibition brings together ten works from Winsor’s Inset Wall series, begun in 1988; Painted Piece (1979–80), an influential performative sculpture, and photographs recording its creation; and videos and photographs documenting one layer of construction of Fifty- Fifty (1975) and the burning of Burnt Piece (1977–78). Winsor’s sculpture embraces the unification of opposing forces to evoke a singular vitality, which is given form through technical ingenuity and unparalleled craftsmanship. Her focus on intimacy and the body in relationship to scale, measurement, and placement, and her interest in elementary form has, for some, placed her historically at an intersection between Minimalism and feminism.
Winsor’s early sculptures were created over extended periods of time using familiar, task-oriented gestures. An initial focus on elementary, symmetrical forms progressed into combinations that evolved into stepped pyramids, resting on the floor and, since the late 1980s, sunken into the wall.
The works in the Inset Wall series pierce the gallery walls at heart level: the vitality is contained within the work’s core, inviting the gaze to penetrate deep within. The tranquil introspection of these pieces is disrupted by the sounds of Winsor drilling and hammering in video footage by Liza Béar documenting the creation of Fifty-Fifty, an intersecting grid with more than 42,336 nails and pre-drilled holes.
Painted Piece is at the center of the exhibition space. Winsor layered fifty coats of paint, ranging from pink to blue to yellow, onto a plywood cube, tied it behind a car and pulled it over cobblestones—alternating sides and occasionally adding weight by sitting atop the cube. The dragging exposed colorful under-layers, the scars and scratches embodying the history and circumstance of its creation.
From the tough vitality of the early work to the calming rumination of the later, With and Within contemplates the dynamic interplay of opposing but complementary power sources in a practice that spans five decades. The sculptures are both expressive and intimate; they invite the viewer into their quiet timelessness.
Amy Smith-Stewart, Senior Curator.
Jackie Winsor was born in 1941 in Saint John’s, Newfoundland, and lives and works in New York City.