WORKS 1985 - 1996

Lynda K. Rockwood got a lot of mileage out of her “Atomic West” series (1993-96).  It commented on the very real dangers of decommissioning Hanford Nuclear Reservation, the Chernobyl of America, situated in southeast Washington state.  Rockwood’s other work actually looked stronger, less inclined to insert topical meaning.

The “Sphere/Spiral” series (1989-90) all lie low to the ground:  flat circles with incised spiral in mixtures of bronze, lead, cement, and iron.  Beautifully patinated or rusted, these works upset our pedestal expectations and solve a positioning problem coped with elsewhere in this survey of 17 works made between 1985 and 1996.

Green Form (1990) is the simplest and most successful expression of the sphere-spiral theme.  Smoothed, green-tinted cement has its untrowelled edges showing and a small ball of cement at its center with a dried leaf embedded.  The interface between nature and humanity’s interventions (or interference in the environment) is brilliantly crystallized here, all the more so for its scale and earth-hugging humility.

Burning Spiral 1 and Burning Spiral 2 (1989), Blue Form (1990), and Slate Form (1990) all hover an inch or two above the floor as if they are being levitated.  Look beneath them and you find small cast-bronze supports.  All Lynda K. Rockwood’s sculptures have a meticulous sense of detail that separates them from Minimalism or the ubiquitous Post-modern readymades.  With all the action going on down there on the floor, however, the viewer must take into account his or her own body in order to appreciate each work.

In the “Vessel Monument/Tomb” series (1991-92), Rockwood builds the pedestal herself and incorporates it into the overall sculpture of the 1991’s Vessel Monument 1.  Eqyptoid in feeling, complete with a pair of hydrostone amphora, this work submits to tradition rather than subverting or improving upon it.  The wall-mounted works Duality and Strata Test (both 1995) from “Atomic West” are the weakest of all from a sculptural standpoint.  The background of Duality gives it a bulletin-board look and the small metal constructions are so recessive as to be easy to ignore.

But then Rockwood’s training is in photography and sculpture and it has taken her some time to reconcile these two influences.  She is better off when she suspends the photography, rolls up her sleeves, and starts mixing cement, or preparing for a bronze pour.  Resisting volume and mass, Lynda K. Rockwood is good at exploring how sculpture can occupy space in a tentative way yet have a presence that causes the viewer to slow down and look more closely.

Matthew Kangas

Review.  Works 1985-1996, Sculpture, September 1996