Friday, July 6, 2007

Nancy Dwyer :: Inhale / Exhale, 2002

Red Granite
Location: Wilbur May Sculpture Plaza

Nancy Dwyer (b. 1954) is a New York-based painter, sculptor and digital artist who works with words. Her ‘word bench’ invites visitors to sit down, breathe, and relax in the presence of the Nevada Museum of Art. “Inhale/Exhale” was commissioned by the museum especially for the sculpture plaza.
Art Critic JoAnn Isaak wrote that Nancy Dwyer “gives words a physical presence appropriate to their meaning.” Thus the red granite letters of the NMA sculptures seem to increase or decrease in size as they embody the act of inhaling and exhaling. Dwyer works in stone, wood, paper, cardboard and vinyl. Her 1990 sculpture “Big Ego” is made up of three immense yellow air-filled balloons. The ‘E,’ ‘G,’ and ‘O’ deflate regularly and must be pumped up constantly. In contrast to the huge “Big Ego,” Dwyer has done small sculptures with letters cut out of entire encyclopedia volumes, spelling out “Blah, Blah, Blah.”
She has created a set of enameled aluminum benches entitled “Multiple Choice.” The benches read ‘Always,’ ‘Often,’ ‘Sometimes,’ ‘Seldom,’ and ‘Never.’ Many of her sculptures are site-specific. At the 911 Emergency Communications Facility in Chicago, Dwyer formed ‘911’ out of a series of benches. On closer examination the benches also spell out John Donne’s words, “No man is an island entire of itself.” At the gates of the Cleveland Indians’ baseball stadium are benches which say, “Who’s On First,” and Clevelanders gather at the entrance to their basketball arena where the benches say, “Meet me here.”
Dwyer said in 1997, “I believe that there’s something enriching to taking that extra moment to ponder, to reflect, maybe even to question. It is my hope that my art work has encouraged this activity.”

Note prepared by Kathleen Durham and Lois Smalley.