Stained Glass and the Expanding Universe Inspire Lynn Aldrich’s New Sculptures

  • Installation "More Light Than Heat," on view at Edward Cella Art + Architecture, Los Angeles, 2015. Courtesy edward Cella Art + Architecture.  

Think back to the beginning of the original “Light and Space Movement”—it’s not the West Coast Minimal art movement the 1960s and ’70s, Lynn Aldrich would argue, but rather the stained glass windows found in cathedrals across Western Europe. This original play on light is something that inspired painters during the late Middle Ages, and also serves as a driving inspiration behind works in Aldrich’s latest show, “More Light Than Heat,” at Edward Cella Art + Architecture.

Aldrich, whose oeuvre was previously defined by the use of readymade products, seemingly plucked from the shelves of a hardware store, reintroduces oil painting, ink, and velvet (materials she’s used in the past) in this exhibition, as her tools to explore the phenomenon and the metaphorical possibilities of light. Her sculptures in the exhibition vary from a birdcage filled with suspended discs topped with pom poms, to paintings made from layer upon layer of colorful velvet in a graduated array.

An Art Center College of Design MFA grad who studied under Jeremy Gilbert-Rolfe and Mike Kelley during the 1980s, Aldrich’s process doesn’t begin with her eye-catching materials. Instead, it starts with sketches, reading, and sometimes titles. Her works have even referenced painting with Duchampian flair—employing paints as “readymades” to be incorporated into her sculpture.

  • Installation "More Light Than Heat," on view at Edward Cella Art + Architecture, Los Angeles, 2015. Courtesy Edward Cella Art + Architecture.  

With the centerpiece of the exhibition, the wall-sized installation Rosy Future (2015), Aldrich highlights her investigation into light within the grey stone interiors of cathedrals. Through her contemporary reimagining of the stained glass in the form of drywall, tar paper, and oil painting, she aims to compare the inspiration behind the awe-inspiring windows to the concept of the rapidly expanding universe around us, a comparison that leads the artist to questions of faith.

“For me,” says Aldrich, “these works celebrate light as knowledge—what, in a less secular age, was called faith is freely associated with a respect for scientific empiricism.” From the expanse of the universe to the base products of everyday life, Aldrich’s playful use of consumer objects straddles realms concrete and metaphysical.

—Rachel Will

More Light Than Heat” is on view at Edward Cella Art + Architecture, Los Angeles, Oct. 24-Dec. 5, 2015.

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