Origin Stories

Origin Stories

Shannon Rankin Map Sculpture

Shannon Rankin, map landscape; Photo: Jay York

What creates a sense of place is as wide-ranging as human perception – but as these six artists’ work shows, we know it when we feel it.

Shannon Rankin uses the language of maps to tell stories of place, perception, and experience. The Maine artist, who is in Roswell, New Mexico, for a residency through 2017, cuts, folds, scores, wrinkles, and reconstructs her raw materials, resulting in radically altered and visually beguiling landscapes, which, she says, “often become more like the terrains they represent.” 

Anelise Schroeder’s Kubbe chair is a contemporary riff on a Norwegian classic – the kubbestol, or log chair, traditionally carved from a single section of a tree. The Brooklyn furniture designer used a CNC router to execute the vintage woodcarving pattern, creating a place to sit that evokes the past as much as the present. 

For more than six decades, Dorothy Gill Barnes has drawn inspiration from nature, carefully manipulating trees as they grow, then harvesting bark and branches; she uses them to create expressive sculptures and basketlike forms. One Branch Divided, among the Ohio artist’s recent works, is made of mulberry and features a signature Barnes dendroglyph – a scar made in the bark of a living tree, indelibly marking both place and time. 

We give a lot of thought to the meals we share; Houston woodworker Clark Kellogg reminds us to attend to something equally significant – the place where we share them. Any meal can become a moment worth remembering at his white oak picnic table, with shop-made brass hardware and wedged through-tenon joinery. 

Spanish artist Ignacio Canales Aracil carefully arranges fresh flowers around molds, compressing them as they dry, to create these stunningly delicate floral structures. Forever Spring exudes cheer, even as the dried flowers sound a mournful note – like the vivid memory of a place we long for, but cannot return to. 

Ani Kasten’s wheel-thrown and hand-built ceramics evoke nature and architecture, while denying a specific site – mottled, textured artifacts of unknown origin. The Maryland artist apprenticed with the British ceramist Rupert Spira and spent four years working with artisan potters in Nepal, a diversity of experience that helped shape her distinctive style.