Gyöngy Laky

35” x 26” x 4”
Charcoal, plastic soldiers, paint, acrylic medium.
Photo: M. Lee Fatherree.

68” x 78” x 5”
Manzanita, blue ink, bullets for building.
Photo: Ben Blackwell.

15.5” High x 30” Diameter.
Apple, commercial wood, screws.
Photo: Ben Blackwell.

11.5” High x 17” Diameter
Eucalyptus, apple, paint, bullets for building.
Photo: Ben Blackwell.

Born in Budapest, Hungary, Gyöngy Laky, San Francisco textile sculptor, is a Professor Emeritus, University of California, Davis. She is a past recipient of a National Endowment for the Arts Fellowship and was one of the first textile artists to be commissioned by the Federal Art-in-Architecture Program. She completed undergraduate and graduate studies at the University of California, Berkeley, and founded the internationally acclaimed Fiberworks, Center for the Textile Arts, there in 1973. Her work is in several permanent collections including the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, The Smithsonian's Renwick Museum of American Art, the Philadelphia Museum of Art, the Oakland Museum, the Museum of Arts and Design and others. Her papers are housed in the Smithsonian's Archives of American Art and her Oral History is in the Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley. She exhibits her work nationally and internationally.

My sculptures, over the past several years, often reference issues of on-going concern for me. They are primarily composed of orchard debris, park trimmings and street tree prunings-collected from the many tons of cuttings which are available each year as growers and gardeners trim and discard (or often burn) the branches of nut and fruit trees and as we maintain our parks, streets and gardens. I am interested in making a small dent in changing attitudes about the environment and our relationship to it. I refer to my work as architectural structures and use age-old forms of human ingenuity about building things by hand. Some work is for the wall, some free-standing and some occurs in site-specific outdoor situations.

As we settle into the 21st century, artists are stitching with thorns, carving logs, braiding hillsides, drawing with sticks, writing poems on leaves and growing sculpture. I am drawn to this type of work and feel I am a participant in a quiet, but significant art movement. Are artists working in these ways, with these materials, preparing for a fresh attitude toward nature for the 21st century? Will this work help break down the distinctions and barriers that have long allowed us to think of nature primarily as our resource? Might such works reveal ecological conditions and cause us to question the character of human intervention? The outdoors has long been a source of inspiration to artists, but the present explorations suggest a new relationship, entreat a lighter hand, acknowledge a greater interdependence and propose a more profound respect for the world we live in - hopefully moving us toward a more sustainable future.

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