For my proposed project, I will build Doors Open, Doors Close, a room-size sculpture to be displayed in an exhibition called Women Under Siege in January, 2017. My installation will showcase works of art by women living in domestic violence shelters. They are making collages in art workshops that I’ve volunteered to give. We are collaborators. We have much to learn from each other.
This installation will fill a room 16’ x 13’. There will be a labyrinth of doors, about seven feet tall, some clinging singly to the walls, and some clustered together in small groups, as if they know what we're talking about, what these women know all too well, that some doors need opening and some must close, and that the path around is very tricky. Because they are painted wooden frames with clear sight lines through the open spaces, all the lines in the room will be visible from any viewpoint, creating a space that is at once sheltering and exposing. The lighting will be soft and interior to the installation. Visitors walking through the installation will discover the collages and poems expressing the stories and emotions of the women who made them.
Doors in my body of work
The start-up banner image is a model for a potential outdoor work, 8’ high, scale 1” = 1’, (model 8” high), highlighting my obsession with doors as a conveyor of narrative, and lines as the formal aesthetic element, for all that I wish to say in my current sculpture.
Last fall, 2015, I built a sculpture, shown below, for an outdoor show, Collaborative Concepts, on Saunder’s Farm in Garrison, NY: You can read more about it here (including its unexpected fate): http://francineperlman.blogspot.com/2015/10/post-installation-collaboration.html, and in my website, you can see this one and many more sculptures, constructions, and installations.
I called it Shelter: A Book of Doors. For me “shelter” might mean reading a good book in a quiet corner, while out of the corner of my eye, acknowledging that someone else has an entirely different idea of that word.
In Shelter: A Book of Doors, there were doorknobs made of cardboard, the iconic material of the shelter of the homeless. Text and photos copied from books were pasted on.
In Doors Open, Doors Close, the doorknobs will also be made of cardboard, but the the faces will be covered with text, both poetry and story-telling, that the women in the workshops wish to contribute.
I’ve been volunteering as a mentor for homeless and formerly homeless for many years, giving art workshops there as well as in a soup kitchen. I’ve been using doors in my sculpture for the last few years, and the ideas of rooms and spaces for many years before that. Art often evolves through circumstance. One day, in a recent mentoring session, a participant said, “We want doors to open. But some doors have to shut."