"Cohabitants" Installation at William King Museum
Artist David Mazure Discusses His Work
By ANGELA WAMPLER | A! MAGAZINE FOR THE ARTS | July 27, 2010ABINGDON, VA — In David Mazure's show at the William King Museum in Abingdon, the piece entitled "Supersymmetry exists...just not here" is an ephemeral acrylic wall painting created specifically for the exhibit. It encompasses one small wall of a gallery at William King Museum and will be painted over upon the conclusion of the show.
Mazure says, "The inspiration for this piece — as with many of the pieces in the show — derives from ideas presented by quantum physics. This piece specifically references or draws inspiration from the scientific theories of supersymmetry, string theory and an investigation of the human body focusing on line and form."
The ink drawing "Transmeanderation Helix" has been exhibited in other spaces. It was originally a 29-foot-long drawing that Mazure cut down to 16-1/2 feet to fit the space at William King "to enhance the intentional purpose of highlighting the invisible space between each section of the drawing," he explains. "I have been working with similar themes and imagery for the past few years. When confronted with the task of creating an entire gallery installation, I chose specific pieces from past exhibitions that would work well with the new pieces that I was preparing for 'Cohabitants.' From the start, I had no idea how all of these pieces would work together, but, through a lot of careful planning and a series of blueprints, I settled upon a finalized whole that, to me, exemplifies gestalt theory [an organized whole that is perceived as more than the sum of its parts]. The final installation came out much better than I expected, which is something that had never happened for me in the past."
Mazure continues, "All other pieces in the show have been specifically measured and placed to fit this particular space, especially the two wall paintings and vinyl installations — to a certain extent. The reason I say 'to a certain extent' is because I have not taken into account or specifically addressed the history or sociopolitical significance of this gallery inside the Museum, which are important aspects of site-specific installation. The only two characteristics I have taken into account in 'Cohabitants' are: 1) the utilitarian purpose of this space (which is to view art) and 2) the actual physical dimensions inherent in the space. The work inside 'Cohabitants' can exist — and possibly will exist — in other galleries or spaces, but it will never look quite like it does at the William King due to its site-specific characteristics."
This is not Mazure's first installation art show. He recalls, "My two previous solo exhibitions incorporated individual installations that did not rely upon one another for their existence. What is exciting about 'Cohabitants' is that this is the first time that the combination of individual pieces of artwork in the gallery work together as a unified whole; that becomes a complete gallery installation in which each unique part is dependent upon each other for meaning. This is the first time I have transformed an entire gallery into a singular experience, so I am very interested in how viewers experience and connect the visual data I present."
According to Mazure, his intention was to create an interconnected, all-encompassing bombardment of imagery, sometimes not even being able to tell where one piece ends and the other begins. His images reference science (biology, astronomy, physics, etc.), while highlighting the relationships in nature on the macro- and micro-scales. His art is also based upon observational life (figure) drawing. The use of space is a key element, both providing the viewer with physical and intellectual space to contemplate the imagery (and the connection of the imagery) and emphasizing the invisible/negative spaces that exist between the images. The sum of all these references, meanings, and parts acts as a unified whole.
Mazure notes, "This isn't artwork made only for people who understand art. No matter what your background is, I believe you can experience and enjoy my installation. I think that is one of the major benefits of installation art — viewers cannot immediately escape it and are confronted with their own thoughts and feelings in regards to what they are experiencing. The main purpose of my artwork is to inspire critical thinking. I give the viewer an assortment of visual information that they can connect in order to highlight the mysteries that the natural world has to offer or that their own minds have to offer. I am interested in the viewer's response based upon both their a priori knowledge and observational experience."
He concludes, "When I watch people experiencing the exhibit, I see them pointing here and there, swiveling their heads to understand a connection. Perhaps the most exciting conversation I had during my opening reception was when a scientist (I think he was a particle physicist) engrossed me in a discussion of quantum entanglement and string theory."
Mazure received his MFA from East Tennessee State University (ETSU) in 2009. He currently teaches at ETSU in Johnson City and at Appalachian State University, Boone, N.C., and lives in Asheville, N.C.
While in graduate school, Mazure began the transition from smaller, self-contained pieces to larger, interrelated installation-like works. He says, "The impetus for this was my interest in science. I have a strong affinity for the mysteries and discoveries of science, but never had the patience or desire to become an actual scientist. So, I create artwork that is influenced and inspired by the sciences, specifically biology, physics, astronomy and genetics. When I realized that I could produce large installations in the science buildings on campus, I immediately jumped at the opportunity. Just as I, as an artist, was inspired by science, I want to inspire scientists with my art. I know my efforts are at least partially successful because in this show, as with past shows, I seem to get a much better reaction to my artwork from scientists than from fellow artists."
— "Peripheral Vision" Installation at Emory & Henry College
David Mazure works on his installation at William King Museum in Abingdon, Va. (Photo by Edward Mazure)