On View: ‘What Makes Up the Whole’

September 16, 2018

Artist Gabrielle Cordes experiments through form and material to create freestanding sculptures and sculptural wall-hangings. An exhibit of the latter, “What Makes Up the Whole,” is on display in the Diane Endres Ballweg Gallery on the third floor of Madison Public Library, 201 W. Mifflin St., through Sept. 24.

The exhibit consists of works that integrate painting, sculpture, and mixed media into a painting/sculpture-like hybrid form of art. Materials used include wood, MDF, plaster, plastic, and yarn, with acrylic paint and charcoal.

When working on a piece, Cordes acts on her natural impulses regarding the structuring of material, use of color, and choices in the design. She says she is inspired by the artistic potential that materials may have, and makes it a point to push them to their best potential to the point they can give the viewer a feeling from deep within.

“I chose these materials primarily due to the high contrast that can be achieved through their adjoined utilization,” Cordes said in an email interview. “My goal is to make it seem like the materials were meant to be together, reincarnated into a more profound and dynamic object.”

With time and experience, Cordes’ understanding of how the formal qualities of her work coincide with her core values and beliefs has grown with her body of work.

“I have discovered that I do not hide the true nature and/or appearance of the materials I use, and that much of my work exhibits notably high contrast through the elements of design,” said Cordes in her artist’s statement. “These recurrences directly reflect my belief in embracing and acknowledging every aspect of oneself, and that the coexistence of contrasting notions is necessary for a more profound perception of logic and reality.”

Along with sculpture, painting, and mixed media, Cordes has worked with many other art mediums, including ceramics, wood, paper, and steel. She says her work is process based, but some are planned start to finish, while others are created based on her immediate feelings and thoughts at the time.

A recent graduate of UW-Madison, Cordes is from Buffalo, Minnesota. She considers herself to be both a painter and a sculptor. At this point in her career, studio art, arts advocacy, and community engagement through the arts are her focuses.

For Cordes, being an artist has a professional balance of working with her hands, researching, and working with people.

“It requires a lot of critical thinking and flexibility which works for me and my personality,” said Cordes. “It’s new every day!”

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