FROM THE DESK: Tamsen Wojtanowski and Lewis Colburn

This November, pairs of NAPOLEON members will be exhibiting collaborative pieces they have generated in response to the Gertrude Stein poem, written in 1923, “If I Told Him: A Completed Portrait of Picasso,” at Traction Company, located in West Philadelphia for CITYWIDE.  In the coming months, we will be updating our blog with From the Desk postings to share work and ideas as they are evolving within the different pairings of NAPOLEON members.

FROM THE DESK:  Tamsen Wojtanowski and Lewis Colburn

Some in-progress images from Tamsen and Lewis’ collaborative project for Citywide

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Tamsen and I work in very different ways: her process is based in photography, while mine is primarily sculptural. We took the structure and phrasing of Stein’s poem as a point of departure for our collaboration, considering how Stein repeats words and subtly varies their order, as if to look at a word or phrase from all possible angles. At the same time, we wanted our project to relate directly to Traction Company, as the space is rough, busy, and devoted to making as opposed to a pristine ‘white cube’ gallery venue.

Considering Stein’s use of repetition and variation, I gathered images of several objects at Traction Company and used them to build miniature versions of the objects. The miniatures look precise, but they are built by guesswork and extrapolation from the images- they are not fully faithful replicas. Our project has evolved into a type of call and response, as Tamsen has used the miniatures to generate cyanotypes, using both the shadows they cast and the direct imprints of the miniatures themselves on the paper. Our final work will involve both the cyanotypes and the miniatures, hopefully tracing a line from the Traction Company space through the objects and into the images. Please join us November 2nd from 2-5pm at Traction Company to see the final realization of the piece, alongside the other collaborative works by NAPOLEON members.

Also, please consider supporting the Citywide project via our Kickstarter campaign. It’s a great way to support all the participating collectives, and you can also get a copy of the forthcoming Citywide exhibition catalog!

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