Lighten Up

Creating dramatic and illuminating effects
I began my career as an artist in ceramics- after finishing my BFA with a focus on sculpture, I founded and ran a ceramic tile manufacturing company in Southern California for almost 20 years.
After selling it in the 1990s, I moved to New Mexico and began focusing on textiles, going full-time teaching and exhibiting in the early 2000s.
 
Much the focus of my work is directed toward process and research, which I believe is related to my years working with clay and running a business.  Constant experimentation was needed to achieve a top quality product while keeping expenses at a minimum—we were working in new temperature ranges with new types of glazes, and never had the budget for large hydraulic presses and custom made commercial kilns.
 
After many years of creating wall work, I began to increase my attention to more dimensional pieces, and started to revisit some of the classical pottery forms we had studied in school. It was fun to recreate some of the general shapes, using the assets of the medium of fiber which are not possible to execute in clay.
 
However, I began to feel a pull away from the stuffed, thick qualities of the work I was making, and began a conscious effort to introduce light.  Through my research into the new spun polyester and nylon fibers, I discovered a variety of materials with a tremendous range of transparency that also reacted very well to the painting techniques I was using.
 
Using them as a springboard, I began introducing light into the works themselves via various LED lighting systems.  Depending on where I placed the illumination, I could achieve subtle to dramatic effects.  Placing the light systems behind the batting and top layer results in a diffused glow, whereas placing them directly under the translucent top layer gives a more sharply defined appearance. Let there Be Light is an example of the first technique, although there are 300 individual lights in the piece, they are behind a thick layer of polyester batting, so they provide a soft glow of light. I wanted more definition of the text in Let Your Light Shine, so the lights are directly under the surface so that they are easier to read.
 
Other pieces rely on passive illumination. Muticellular, for instance, has a translucent center panel that allows the light to bounce off the wall behind.  On close inspection, you can look through the perforations and see the shadows on the wall which gives it a very three dimensional appearance.  Regeneration uses a similar set of stitched together elastic circles that rise off of the top of the work to form a shape that looks different from any angle.  The original inspiration for the piece was a T’ang Dynasty vase from AD 700.
 
Much of the past year has been preparing work for an invitational exhibition at the New Mexico State Capitol building.  One of the first ideas I had for the show was to represent the Rio Grande, which resulted in Whitewater, a series of painted and pierced panels that are hung in layers away from the wall.  The appearance of the work differs depending on the light source and location of the viewer.
 
Thanks for taking this small journey with me as I meander along like our beloved river.
 
For more information visit www.bbusbyart.com.
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