In 2011, inspired by figurative wire sculptures I had done in the ’80s, by vine formations in local woods, and by the latent value of a material that is often seen as worthless and undesirable, I began making hanging sculptures, and used more massive vines to produce my first large vine relief work, the 10-foot-square Floating Brain. This led to many pieces, such as Inner Urge, that are like 3D drawings in space—the vines liberated from their natural habitat, twisting and turning into arbitrary new entanglements as they emerge in gestural rhythms that allude to the intrinsic interconnectivity of nature and human life.
Artsy: You’ve painted scenes from the vantage point of the 91st floor of the World Trade Center. Can you tell us about that experience, and your later shift to more bucolic themes?
DB: In 1997, in what turned out to be one of the most significant experiences of my artistic career to date, I was chosen to be among the first artists in residence in a pilot program for the Plein Air Project, initiated with the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council at the World Trade Center. The project’s mission statement was to document Manhattan’s ever-changing skyline by turning unrented offices in the World Trade Center into studio spaces. Most of the paintings from my vast studio on the 91st floor of the North Tower were of a long cityscape juxtaposed with the changing sky and clouds and attesting to the omnipotence of nature. Perhaps the most significant painting I did in the World Trade Center, Fire Outside My Window, World on Fire, was of my studio seemingly on fire in the morning sun. This painting was in the show “Remembering September 11, 2001” at the New York State Museum in Albany in 2011.