Wednesday, June 27, 2007

Kendall Buster :: Double Chalice: Joined and Separated

Kendall Buster b. 1954
Double Chalice: Joined and Separated, 1996
Steel, netting – 114” x 114” x 180”
Location: Nightingale Rooftop

Kendall Buster’s first field of study was microbiology, where she became fascinated with the beauty of what she saw under the microscope. The more she studied these micro-organisms, the more she felt as if she were entering an exotic alternate landscape. She decided to study art, in order to give substance to these forms. She received an MFA in sculpture from Yale University and began to bring her conceptions to life. She began to create large sculptural forms which appear to be objects occurring in nature, such as huge seed or pods or cells magnified a hundred times. They are organic shapes built over steel armatures and covered with semi-opaque netting. Buster enjoys the play between transparency and opacity in her work, as well as the contrasting feelings of welcome and menace. Commenting on a 1999 exhibition at the Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art in Kansas City, Missouri, David Cateforis describes Double Chalice: “…a pair of screen-covered skeletons, open to entry on either end and interlocking at the center. The composition suggests, in Buster’s words, a ‘mating machine,’ with the circular opening of the female side receiving the probe of the male element. Depending upon which side of the sculpture the visitor enters, he or she may identify either with the penetrator or the penetrated.”
Visitors to the NMA’s Double Chalice remark on the organic nature of her sculpture, but just as often describe it as a set of doorknobs, two cups, a barbell, a spider, parachutes, a jellyfish or a flower. The NMA chose it for the rooftop gallery because it can withstand weather as well as gentle touching—children are told they may pat it, but not poke it.Buster lives in Richmond Virginia, and teaches in the Department of Sculpture and Extended Media at Virginia Commonwealth University.

Note prepared by Kathleen Durham and Lois Smalley.