Essay by Susan Platt. Mapping Strata Series, September 2007

Lynda K. Rockwood’s subtle sculptures connect to structures of time and space, science and randomness, the known and the unknown. The works in her recent series entitled Mapping Strata investigate these concepts.

Stratascape I
flows through two-dimensional space as an asymmetrical landscape supporting a cast bronze vessel and trilobite. The real scale of the trilobite anchors the work. The rough edges of the vessel, created by manipulating the mold, suggest an artifact just taken from the earth. Inside the vessel is another bronze trilobite, a wonderful contradiction, since the trilobite flourished millions of years before bronze casting began. Bronze plate, fabricated on a horizontal plane, comprises the larger shape of Stratascape I. Diagonal cuttings invoke strata. The undulating lower edge and the roughly cut upper edge imply yet other dimensions. The rigorous application of layers of patina relies on known and accidental reactions; chemistry to suggest dense sedimentation.

In Ancient Transformation, three stele like forms reveal gores (the elliptical forms used to construct a globe) that emerge from an earth-colored surface. On the right, the etched gore encompasses several negative shapes, the shapes of seas threatened with extinction. In the center gore, diagonal cuts define strata in space, while the left gore projects and turns at right angles, thus connecting to our concept of the round earth.

In the four Strataspades, a trowel-like shape supports a glass vessel formed of under fired frit glass creating a texture that suggests granulated snow. But this “iced” glass glows with color: chartreuse, light amber, sienna, spring green, olive green, aquamarine, and turquoise. They mingle, but do not fuse, leaving layers of deposit.

Inspired by her life-long interest in geology and paleontology, Rockwood utilizes ancient and contemporary materials and techniques to create sculptures that explore her concern for the environment and point to the mysteries of the earth itself.

Susan Platt

Essay. Mapping Strata Series exhibition, September 2007

Review by Allyn Cantor. Mining the Ellipse Series, Preview, April/May 2004

Lynda K. Rockwood’s first solo exhibition at the Francine Seders Gallery is an extension of the artist’s ongoing work with the ellipse form. For the pieces in this sculptural series, Rockwood gives a new voice to her refined and technically immaculate sculptures by incorporating trilobites, ammonites and sea urchins. She is also taking negative casts of the fossils to create new bronze works.

The artist visited the Burgess Shale Quarry and other regions of the Canadian Rockies to explore fossil themes. Rockwood hopes that her work will motivate people to be aware of their intimate relation to earth as well as the fossils’ vulnerability to extinction: of an original 10,000 species of cephalopods, only 600 exist today.

In pieces like Trilobite Vessel, Rockwood builds forms from cast hydrostone and sheet lead. The surfaces, covered by sheet lead, are as smooth and sensuous as skin. The lead also references atomic or radioactive energy. Marine fossils and strata formations are set into recessed areas of the lead surface.

In addition to the fossil works, Rockwood uses her signature ellipse motif in pieces that employ lotus leaf imagery, drawing upon its symbolic history and beauty. The exhibit includes a series of Leaf Drawings on mylar, as well as Trace Drawings in hydrostone. The dynamics between materials and forms give these works strength. Natural materials and clean forms combine in sculptures that are elegant and peaceful.

Allyn Cantor

Review. Mining the Ellipse Series, Preview, April/May 2004

Review by Matthew Kangas. Works 1985-1996, Sculpture, September 1996
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

Review by Helen Lessick. The Atomic West Series, Reflex, December 1995

When Claude Levi-Strauss fled Europe before World War II, he booked passage on the same ship as Bertrand Goldschmidt, a physicist who became one of the directors of the U.S. Atomic Energy Commission. In May 1941, the great anthropologist had the principles of the atomic bomb explained to him and wrote in his diary:

The order and harmony of the Western world, its most famous achievement, and a laboratory in which structures of a complexity as yet unknown are being fashioned, demand the elimination of a prodigious mass of noxious by-products which now contaminate the globe. The first things we see as we travel round the world is our own filth, thrown in the face of mankind.

In “The Atomic West,” Lynda Rockwood explores the ramifications of noxious by-products with a series of multiple-part sculptures. Pieces made over the past three years have been presented in several group exhibitions, but only at Seattle Pacific has Rockwood been able to present several of the works together in a one-person show. She took full advantage of the opportunity, repainting the gallery walls, sealing and waxing the concrete floor, and expertly lighting the individual objects to achieve a hermetic yet rigorous presentation of chemical metaphor.

Rockwood is especially interested in a scientific and sociological interface, creating a kind of laboratory sculpture. With exquisite craft and obsessive attention to material, she creates a rigorous array of chemical paraphernalia and natural form. Stainless steel shelves, cast iron clamps, and lead weights contrast the detached phenomena of the atomic industry with the secret life of rocks.

But “The Atomic West” is neither aloof nor impartial. The beautiful work is full of sadness and warning, as Rockwood presents fossils and shells as indicator species for the long-term legacy of nuclear fission. One segment of Duality, a multiple-part work, contrasts a small image of an atomic explosion with concentration camp inmates. This comparison of two experiences of human suffering, held inches apart with specimen pincers, acts as the core of the installation, the problematic balancing of innocent lives. Displayed near a sea urchin shell under magnifying lenses, it is clear that all species lose in this atomic equation.

Unfortunately, the didactic statement posted in the gallery detracts from the artist’s larger metaphors. “The plumb bob represents the Hanford dichotomy,” Rockwood writes, reducing her mysterious, formal sculptures to signposts. They are quite more. Like Levi-Strauss, Rockwood eloquently speculates on the personal and environmental ramifications of political decision. Whether the atomic west’s “noxious by-products” are nuclear or cultural remains to be seen.

Helen Lessick

Review. The Atomic West Series, Reflex, December 1995

Catalog by Thomas Lang. New Works, May 1990

Nature is an infinite sphere, whose center is everywhere and whose circumference is nowhere – Pascal

The transformation of experience into form is not direct, but rather a search for equivalents. The forms that evolve from this may be obscure or illusive but are not necessarily abstract. A deep understanding of materials and processes often yields equivalents which seem to arise from an affecting presence. In cultures that did not distinguish between the artists and craftspeople, the ability to create this presence gave object makers elevated status, power, and the role of shaman.

In contemporary terms it unveils a broad range of new visual metaphors. Lynda Rockwood makes sculpture in which the real and the abstract continually trade places. Many of the recent works are slabs supported by legs, table-like environments, which like bonsai suggests significance much larger. An active interest in ecology seems to be the basis for categorical symbols, as in her use of general color to indicate air, earth or water. The works do not criticize or comment, rather they heighten our interaction by enhancing our awareness. These beautiful objects seem ordinary enough at first viewing, but immediately begin to resonate with intrigue, blending unique qualities of materials and seductive forms, challenging the viewer to become an active participant scanning and examining the work. Rockwood seems to have reversed the process of archeology. We are presented with the exposed surface and the raw information first, then urged toward discovery. The importance of substance and process is highlighted in River Form. In Green Form, a sphere on a round slab table emphasizes the qualities in these forms that have evolved from a liquid state. Lava-like ooze has drifted to form a perfectly defined yet undelineated circular slab which tenuously holds a gluttonous globe.

In these “unpainted landscapes” we are given a cross section or core sample, the surface of which is articulated with natural elements, shards and metallic bits and pieces. Sometimes loosely placed in a formal reservoir, sometimes firmly embedded, they may be seen to represent the boundaries of change in the environment. Emerging from the interior of the piece, they establish the presence of a content within. Often as in Slate Form, the ritual significance of objects is utilized to activate quizzical formal elements. This work presents the viewer with a visual riddle that is conceptualized in terms of potent ceremonial forms. The three main forms are balanced formally and thematically. They have a rich and particular identity, yet are concomitantly universal. We experience the true character of these forms as anachronistic survivors of the sculptural process.

Tom Lang

Catalog. New Works exhibition, May 1990



Seattle, Washington USA


M.F.A. Sculpture, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

M.A. Photography, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA

B.A. Fine Art, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA


Hauberg Fellow. Pilchuck Glass School, Stanwood, WA

Seattle Artists Visual Arts Program Award. Seattle Arts Commission, Seattle, WA

Ford Foundation Special Projects Grant. University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Ford Foundation Scholarship. University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Ruth Nettleton Scholarship. University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Sarah L. Denny Fellowship Award. University of Washington, Seattle, WA


Mapping Strata, Francine Seders Gallery Ltd., Seattle, WA

Mining the Ellipse, Francine Seders Gallery Ltd., Seattle, WA

The Atomic West Series, Art Center Gallery, Seattle Pacific University, Seattle, WA

New Works, Randall Gallery, St. Louis, MO

Architecture of the Earth, Cecille R. Hunt Gallery, Webster University, St. Louis, MO

Photograms, Evergreen Galleries, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA

Structures, Sarah Spurgen Gallery, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA


Revering Nature, Bainbridge Island Museum of Art, Bainbridge Island, WA

Particles on the Wall, Hoch Gallery, The Reach Museum, Richland, WA

Particles on the Wall, Museum of Culture & Environment, Central Washington University, Ellensburg, WA

Particles on the Wall, Washington Department of Ecology, Lacey, WA

New Work, Francine Seders Gallery Ltd., Seattle, WA

Landscape Visions, Evergreen Gallery, The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA

Two Person: Layered Histories, Larson Gallery, Yakima Valley Community College, Yakima, WA

Five Person: Clay and Related Materials, Francine Seders Gallery Ltd., Seattle, WA

Five Person: New…Idea, Material, Process, Francine Seders Gallery Ltd., Seattle, WA

Natural Causes, Gallery One, Ellensburg, WA

Seattle Collects Seattle, Seattle Arts Commission, Seattle, WA
Four Person: Nuclear Cities, Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA

Fifty Years-Fifty Artists, Bellevue Botanical Garden/Bellevue Art Museum, Bellevue, WA
Two Person: Selected Works 1985 – 1996, Anderson-Glover Gallery, Kirkland, WA

Five Person: Forms and Fabrication, The Art Gym, Marylhurst College, Marylhurst, OR

Fallen Timber, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA
Bellevue Outdoor Sculpture Exhibition, Bellevue Arts Commission, Bellevue, WA

Visiting Artists, School of Art Gallery, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

Two Person: Structures, St. Louis Design Center, St. Louis, MO

Webster University Art Faculty Exhibition, Loretto Hilton Gallery, St. Louis, MO

RSVP Earth, St. Louis Artists Coalition Gallery, St. Louis, MO

Wit, Humor and Satire, St. Louis Artists Coalition Gallery, St. Louis, MO

Contemporary Women Artists of St. Louis 1987, Bixby Gallery, Washington University, St. Louis, MO
National Juried Sculpture Exhibition: Works by Women, Carnegie Arts Center, Cincinnati, OH

20th Annual National Drawing and Small Sculpture Show, Del Mar College, Corpus Christi, TX

Introspectives: A National Exhibition of Autobiographical Works by Women Artists, Pyramid Arts Center, Rochester, NY

12th Annual Painting & Sculpture Exhibition, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA


Layered Histories, Larson Gallery, Yakima, WA

Seattle Collects, Seattle Arts Commission, Seattle, WA

Fallen Timber, Tacoma Art Museum, Tacoma, WA

New Works, Randall Gallery, St. Louis, MO

National Juried Sculpture Exhibition: Works by Women, Carnegie Arts Center, Covington, KY

20th Annual National Drawing and Small Sculpture Show, Del Mar College, Corpus Christi, TX

Introspectives: A National Exhibition of Autobiographical Works by Women Artists, Pyramid Arts Center, Rochester, NY


Seattle Arts Commission, Seattle, WA

Webster University, St. Louis, MO

The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA

Washington State Arts Commission, Olympia, WA


Platt, Susan. Essay. Mapping Strata, September 2007.

Cantor, Allyn. Review. Mining the Ellipse, Preview, April/May 2004.

Hahn, Cheryl H. Review. Natural Causes, She Speaks, Winter/Spring 2002.

McTaggart, Tom. Review. From Here to Infinity, Seattle Weekly, 19 March 1997.

Kangas, Matthew. Review. Sculpture, September 1996: p. 67.

Lessick, Helen. Review. The Atomic West Series, Reflex, Dec. 1995/Jan. 1996.

Duffy, Robert W. Review. Common Subject, Different Views, St. Louis Post-Dispatch, March 1992.

Lang, Thomas. Review. Architecture of Earth/Hunt Gallery, Sculpture, March/April 1989: p. 36.

Watson-Jones, Virginia. Book. Contemporary American Women Sculptors. Phoenix, AZ: Oryx Press, 1986.


1994 – 1996
INSTRUCTOR: Instruction of welding and mold-making, Pratt Fine Arts Center, Seattle, WA

1992 – 1993
VISITING SCULPTOR: Instruction of welding, wood fabrication, and 3-D design courses. Served on graduate committees. School of Art, University of Washington, Seattle, WA

1985 – 1993
ASSOCIATE PROFESSOR, HEAD OF SCULPTURE: Developed and conducted the complete sculpture curriculum including the technical aspects of a foundry and fabrication studio. Course instruction included the following materials and processes: clay, plaster, mixed-media, wood working, stone carving, metal casting, and metal welding, and fabrication. Contributed to the design and implementation of a new sculpture facility completed Fall 1991. Webster University, St. Louis, MO

WELDING INSTRUCTOR: Instructor of TIG, straight-arc, oxyacetylene welding, and related metal fabrication procedures. The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA

VISITING ARTIST: Instructor of an advanced mixed-media program which included the following processes: photography, wood working, cast paper, cast metal, welding, and fabrication. The Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA


FABRICATOR: TIG welder and general fabricator of a bronze and concrete sculpture commission for L. Rockwood, Washington State Arts Commission, Olympia, WA

FABRICATOR: TIG welder and general fabricator of a stainless steel sculpture commission for J. Maher, Seattle, WA

ASSISTANT FABRICATOR: Electrode arc welder and general fabricator of a steel sculpture commission. Fabrication Specialties, Seattle, WA

ASSISTANT FABRICATOR: TIG welder, general fabricator, and installer of a bronze sculpture commission. L.N.T. Company, Seattle, WA