Shotgun Review

The Dripstone Sings to the Choir and Flood

By Shotgun Reviews May 3, 2011

The two concurrent solo shows at Ampersand International Arts, with works by Tara Foley and Alex Clausen, at first exude a hard separation between one another; however, upon closer inspection, a complementary interplay emerges from the contours of the artists’ pieces.

Foley’s The Dripstone Sings to the Choir consists of debut works from a larger series entitled Pairings, which is “a collaborative project exploring the relationship between humans and their natural, social and built environments.”1 In Tenticular Metroland, Salvation for the Laborer (2011), a system of chutes, ladders, and tubes connect floating platforms from which protrusions of gestural hands and ornate gothic cathedrals sit above or hang below. The precise lines and minimal use of color also help to conjure an architectural blueprint that demonstrates points of intersection between symbolic and man-made “support” systems. Foley renders traditional building materials like metal and wood into fibrous strands of hair; shingled roofs and flying buttresses morph into arthropodal wings; and mountains ridges and cascades take on an intestinal quality. In effect, the transformative environments depicted in her drawings can be perceived as visual anagrams of human innovation and natural evolution. In all of Foley’s pieces, the tropes of navigational aids and topological restraints suggest that through these portals and terrains, a sense of chaotic order presides over human life.

In Alex Clausen’s site-specific installation Flood, he is also interested in how the natural realm interrupts and informs architectural constructs. Taking inspiration from the patterns

Alex Clausen. Flood, 2011; wood with stretch fabric. Courtesy of the Artist.

of sunlight on the gallery floor, Clausen has created a three-dimensional translation of these plotted points, which provides a passageway for light to pour into and travel throughout the space. The shadows cast by the sun penetrate the almost fluorescent, transparent blue fabric that stretches over the sculpture’s wooden framework; the added layers of unassuming dimensionality reverberate Foley’s fusion of naturally occurring and man-made geometrical forms. The inevitable wane of sunlight each evening and, consequently, the sculpture’s continuously changing aesthetic, is an integral variable that highlights the ephemeral components at work in Clausen’s installation. Moreover, the sculpture itself invokes a sense of irony in terms of sunlight’s physicality; the title, Flood, and the installation’s blue fabric challenge conventional associations with water, allowing the sun to appropriate an aquatic sense of movement and power, forcing the wooden supports to defy their static nature in order to mimic the curvature of its contents.


The Dripstone Sings to the Choir and Flood are on view at Ampersand International Arts, in San Francisco, through May 13, 2011.


Sheila Jackson is a freelance writer and recent graduate of Wesleyan University where she studied English and French Literature. She currently works for an educational non-profit in San Francisco.




1. Tara Foley, Pairings.

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