The McLean County Arts Center in Bloomington is currently showing the works of sculptor Tyler Lotz in the exhibition entitled, “Traverse.” The show is currently up through Feb. 15.
Influenced by natural and mediated landscapes, Lotz works in clay, looping and bending forms, slathering them in color and glaze. The pieces are inspired by his forays into nature. The results veer toward abstract, rather than strict recreation.
Lotz has found inspiration in geological formations around the country, Colorado and Montana, in particular.
“I like to go to places that are particularly mountainous, where there aren’t a lot of people, houses or roads. I like the Montana landscape because its big and wide and open. You can see very far distances, but then there are moments when you get up in those places and you feel very compressed and tight in those spaces. You feel very much a part of it and small.”
The feelings that impact Lotz as he is out in the landscape don’t specifically translate to the work that he creates in his studio.
“I think that is what the work is trying to do, but I don’t think it can actually do that. It’s a stand-in for it. It’s not the actual thing. You can never really recreate that, and I think it’s that pursuit of trying to reach back for those experiences that drives me to keep creating new pieces.”
“And none of these pieces is actually one of those experiences. They’re usually an amalgam of those experiences. It’s actually all colored by other experiences that I’ve had, like maybe hiking in the woods with my dad in Alaska. That might be in one of the pieces, layered over on top of experience that I’ve had fly fishing in Montana.”
Lotz embraces collage form in his sculptures.
“What I like about collage is I have a really loose idea of what I might do with these forms. There’s a lot of work in here (the exhibition) that I would not have pre-conceived in any way. But I do have a general idea and then I can make a lot of stuff and I don’t necessarily have to think all that much. I’m not thinking about landscape as I’m extruding out these forms. But I have a general idea that that could come out of some of the general choices that I’m making in terms of the form or the material.”
Included in the free-standing sculptures on display in “Traverse,” Lotz is showing wall-mounted pieces. The challenge with the free-standing pieces, said Lotz, is that he must consider every angle of the piece as he is creating it.
“The wall pieces are simplified. They’re on a grid structure and still use the same looped forms. I like thinking about the grid, which is one of the things that pushed me towards the wall in relationship to thinking about how I’m reconciling how I’m living in this landscape here, which is much more grid-like. If it’s not gridded by roads, it’s gridded by rows of corn and soybeans. And so the wall pieces operate differently in the end because they show you just one view. When you step back, there’s not a whole lot that changes. But when you do get up close to them, you can come at them from a slightly different angle and you start to see the layering a bit differently.”
In addition to the sculptures of Tyler Lotz, “Traverse” also features new works by artist Megan Kathol Bersett. The show is up through Feb. 15.
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