Anne Mudge: TapRoots

Anne Mudge: Tap Roots

A selection of woven wire studies, “TapRoots”, by Anne Mudge was the subject of a solo exhibition at David Zapf Gallery in downtown San Diego from January 18 through February 16, Mudge, who has created sculptures for the past 20 years, arrived at the medium of wire because she felt it eloquently expressed the linear qualities of line drawing that are echoed in many organic forms. A public commission to create 12 suspended sculptures for a new underground trolley station in San Diego has afforded Mudge the opportunity to continue the investigation on a much larger scale. The one-quarter-scale studies on view at the David Zapf Gallery were constructed from heavy industrial cable unwound and rewoven by hand to create pod- and root-like forms. While Mudge does not consider herself a fiber artist per se, she admits that many have commented on the woven references in her work and explains that while the connection is not conscious, she has spent many hours helping friends to warp looms.

The series of studies and the one completed full-scale piece on display at the gallery eloquently move beyond the mechanical associations of the tough wire cabling in spite of the fact that the material remains instantly recognizable. Inspiration is drawn from a variety of organic networks: the skeletons of our bodies, architectural beams often seen only when a building is under construction, and the branches of leafless trees in winter. The tension created between skin and skeleton is seen by Mudge to reveal “pure structure” with all excess pared away to reveal the volume and form captured by line.

The structural result of this self-fashioned off-loom weaving is that the core of the cable acts as a central spine to each study. In certain studies, the spine is erect and unquestioning: in others, the core is looped and knotted. The first completed full-scale model presents a different feel, in part due to the sheer size of the piece, Rather than the plumb line created by its one-quarter-scale model, Full Scale #1 is suspended from the middle, projecting a surprising sense of weightlessness in spite of its scale. The only tell-tale sign of the increased strength of the materials appears in the discoloured patches of wire along each bend, where the metal has been torched in order to make each strand more pliable. Rather than a distraction, the inflection of gloss against matt along each strand enhances the work’s surface.

A collection of small studies, including Study #37, intrigue precisely because of the less recognizable materials they incorporate. Resin drips from fine wire, grounding the works in a sense of literal growth and decay absent from the larger on-quarter and full-scale models. But in many ways the tension captured by the larger works between intellectual recognition of material and emotional response to form is more evocative than if there were a greater sense of ambiguity created by the material. One only hopes that the captivating shadows cast by the one-quarter-scale studies will be visible when installed underground as full-scale works. The quivering and shifting shadows multiply and divide before one’s eyes, reminiscent of the organic world of growth and decay created by this underworld of line and space.

FiberArts magazine, Sept./Oct. 2002: 56.