visual arts

Student's work on display at Grounds For Sculpture Oct. 16 through April 8


Jason Carey-Sheppard
Jason Carey-Sheppard

Artist Jason Carey-Sheppard forages for inspiration among the mundane—in sheets of plywood and rolls of tape, in Styrofoam balls, beer cans, bike horns and disco balls. The 25-year-old Mason Gross MFA sculpture student assembles and manipulates unlikely—and, at times, unsettling—combinations of found objects.

Consider—or reconsider—the humble garage-door opener: One of the Colorado native’s recent works, As It Is Above So It Is Below, features a 12-foot ladder and a garage-door arm that raises and lowers a glowing crystal chandelier. The piece, for which Carey-Sheppard received the International Sculpture Center’s 2011 student award, is on view from October 16, 2011 through April 8, 2012, at Grounds For Sculpture, a 35-acre public sculpture park in Hamilton, N.J.

“I’m re-manipulating materials that shouldn’t be used,” Carey-Sheppard says. “A garage-door opener was never meant to lift a chandelier up and down. I’m doing a lot of work that has to perform a task.”

As the arm moves the chandelier, the ladder tilts forward at a precarious angle, prompting the viewer to wonder if the glass might eventually shatter.

Ideally, he says, As It Is Above So It Is Below “expresses the sense of everything about to fall apart.”

Carey-Sheppard’s background—his father was an art historian and Carey-Sheppard earned an undergraduate degree in philosophy while holding a job as a wood-shop technician—has informed his interest in exploring how materials work on both a functional and conceptual level.

The chandelier, the garage-door arm and the ladder, which Carey-Sheppard says he reworked 30 times: “All of these objects carry history and identity,” he says, explaining that the ladder carries people from one point to another, the chandelier is a “rarefied object” and the garage-door opener is a “humdrum” object that we tend to disregard.

But if Carey-Sheppard has his way, he will defy viewers’ expectations. His work will nudge us to rethink the often-arbitrary lines we draw between “art” materials and utilitarian objects.

“I want to get someone to come into the gallery and see an object outside the limits of what they’d [usually] see,” he says. “Maybe they’d think about their everyday landscape in ways that are poetic.”   

Posted 2011