Tristin Lowe: Under the Influence
(October 22, 2011 – January 29, 2012)
Twelve-and-a-half feet in diameter, a moon-like sphere made of white wool felt formed by artist Tristin Lowe will make its Philadelphia debut this fall in the Joan Spain Gallery in the Ruth and Raymond G. Perelman Building of the Philadelphia Museum of Art. Entitled Lunacy, this large-scale sculpture was created in 2010 and represents one of Lowe’s most ambitious works to date.
The felt surface of Lowe’s moon was fashioned of 14 sections that were pieced together by hand evoking the moon’s pocked and cratered surface by what Lowe has described as “an absurd and time-consuming process involving tweezers, small brushes, sizing, and a comb-over technique.” He has said that creating the exterior of Lunacy took about three hours per square foot, with the sculpture measuring a total of 490 square feet. To keep the structure inflated, Lowe used a sealed, airtight armature inside the sculpture. “I wanted to create something that was large enough to interact with the space and that could be encountered from multiple perspectives,” Lowe remarked about the installation when it was commissioned by the Museum of Art, Rhode Island School of Design, where it was first shown last year. “I think a lot about how a viewer comes upon a piece and engages with it.”
Says Dilys Blum, The Jack M. and Annette Y. Friedland Senior Curator of Costume and Textiles, “We are excited by the opportunity to present the work of this extraordinary Philadelphia artist. His ability to transform felted wool—a simple material—into an otherworldly form speaks to Lowe’s humor, creativity, and craftsmanship.”
Lowe is known for exploring subjects ranging from the mundane to the outrageous. As a sculptor, Lowe has used felt to craft propane tanks, barrels, and Mocha Dick (2009), a 52-foot, full-scale sperm whale. In works such as Dumbo and Bourbon Pillow (2001) a pink elephant made of vinyl and an internal fan stands 18 feet high before a pillow and a bottle of bourbon. A newfangled snowman, Frosty (1999), is composed of copper, insulation, a timer, pumps, a hose, aluminum, plastic, and antifreeze. Other works include a bed that wets itself and a two-story folding canvas chair. Lowe has also made drawings from grease paint and fire and installations of edible materials such as butter chocolate.
Lowe, who was born in Boston in 1966, received his BFA from Massachusetts College of Art and studied at Parsons School of Design and Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. He has exhibited widely at venues such as the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence; The John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Wisconsin; the Royal Hibernian Academy, Dublin; the University of California, San Diego; and The Fabric Workshop and Museum, Philadelphia. He has received a number of awards and grants, including a Pew Fellowship, a Provincetown Fine Art Work Center Fellowship, The Fabric Workshop and Museum Residency, and a Girard College Residency. Lowe was a co-founder and co-director of the non-profit gallery Blohard. His work is represented in the collection of the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, and The West Collection, as well as numerous private collections. Lowe is currently represented by Fleisher Ollman Gallery.
“This year, the Museum is proud to exhibit the works of many of the talented artists who call Philadelphia their home,” states Timothy Rub, The George D. Widener Director and Chief Executive Officer. “Tristin Lowe’s sculptures and installations are superb examples of the innovative and engaging work by contemporary artists that is being produced in our city.”