DAVISON KOENIG              davison.html

As an artist I am intrigued by mankind’s relentless economic pursuit in the name of “progress”, or to put it more bluntly the futility of man.  This material clutter that we leave behind us as markers of “progress” fascinates me.  These objects and materials are infused with their own stories.   The decay of material culture speaks to the constant rebirth of nature.  The austerity and clarity of the desert, only emphasizes the sacred and the profane juxtaposed across the landscape.

Ironically, the origins of my most recent body of work “desert vernacular” may be traced back to my days living along the northern California coast in Mendocino.  Long fascinated by industrial processes and the aftermath of their demise - often in the form of rusted machinery - and always searching for sculptural fodder, I soon discovered that most all refuse prior to the 1960’s was pushed off the cliffs into the ocean.  Of course this was preceding the proliferation of plastics, when our material world was largely, ceramic, glass and metal. During the full and new moons when the tide is at it’s lowest, if you venture along the shore adjacent to any coastal town you can still find the old “town dump.”  Buried in sand, pounded by the surf, these resilient materials, testaments to man’s ingenuity are once again returning to the earth.  Intrigued by the organic quality of the metals, the inherent narrative, and an unspoken truth - I would combine these objects with cast bronze liquid forms, together weaving a narrative that spoke of the uneasy relationship, since time immemorial, of man and nature. 

Having traded the ocean for desert [although in many ways not dissimilar] I have continued my exploration, however the “town dumps” that I now seek are “wildcat dumpsites” on the edge of desert towns.  And while the machinery and industry along the California coast was primarily timber, here in the Sonoran desert it is principally the mining industry.  I have largely forsaken bronze casting, having tired of the labor, material, and time consuming process that is costly both financially and environmentally, as well as ultimately reducing one’s life expectancy.  Instead I work almost entirely with the materials I find – sheet metal, copper wire, brake drums, ore balls, but to name a few. I enjoy the immediacy of the fabrication process and find the use of discarded materials infinitely more satisfying. 

As a minimalist sculptor, I believe that while minimal may imply less, in this consumptive culture – less is only more.   My artistic process is a dialogue with the materials that I find littering our landscape. Oxidizing metals - decaying, worn from human use, surface textures treated with desert varnish – this is what  I search for.   The textures are, not surprisingly, reminiscent of the landscape, which shaped them – river worn, scorched, scarred, opened, punctured, repaired - at once dark and sanguine.   The meticulous contrivance to shape these forms - piercing holes, patchwork repairs, sutures, and fasteners in my work - all speak to the interplay between these organic processes and human intervention. Often I feel my role is secondary, simply giving a voice to the objects and a truth to the materials. 

  desert vernacular