Trained in the decorative arts and sculpture drawing has been my primary medium of practice for over a decade. Drawing initially was means for me to explore aspects of design, decoration and functionality in the abstract. My work has progressed from objects to objects patterned by landscapes and now inverted waterscapes.
My current work is charcoal drawings of negative images of light on water. The inverted images change the material of water into what could be interpreted as a desert and at times an alpine landscape or of a static material of stone or marble; thus, completely inverting our understanding of the material. This shift touches on many of the themes that have been of interest to me such as: transformation, materiality, scale, landscape, reflection and perhaps tangentially, my personal concern about our climate. These drawings feel like a seminal shift in my studio practice, one that combines the numerous threads and interests I have investigated over the years.
A continuation of my subtle investigation of the reflection and intimacy in precious gems and objects. His work is inspired by picture agates; semi-precious stones which when cut and polished reveal what appear to be hidden landscapes or foliage within their natural matrix. Wahl super-imposes hyper-realistic landscapes onto the immense rendering of the natural one. In Wahl’s drawings what appear to be large formal renderings of gems, upon closer and more intimate inspection open to reveal not a “thing”, but a place. Striations in stone become jungle fronds and waterfalls mimic marble. Grand landscapes hidden within the stones seem no more unrealistic then a gem opening up reveal another world.
Other worlds are inferred in Wahl’s series of portraits of Pearls and black cabochons. The pearls rendered large take on the feeling of a planet or a moon. Abstracted from the tiny scale we usually admire them they invite us to image traveling there not holding them in our hand. Drafted in charcoal, opaque stones become deep black pools and expanses of outer space inviting us in not to explore, but to disappear.
The final drawing in the series is a Gazing globe, which combines reflection, reduction and escape in a misty gem like mirror drawing of a bucolic setting. The globe both reflects the leafy scene and also embodies it as if the patterning a picture agate was stretched over the sphere. The image from afar could also be taken for a planet but the planet is the place, the scene is the object. Again, asking us to find and in turn investigate a location in the object. The surface does not reveal what is inside but reverses where we might be back at us. Yet unlike gems which invite us in the globe invites us in and then denies us entry. Unfortunately none of these gems are portals to other worlds; they act like tiny prisms-imitating black mirrors and translucent eyes which reflect places we do not inhabit. They remove the viewer from the pleasure of inhabiting the reflection they see, they dissolve our existence. They are the Edens we have been cast out of the places we are forbidden and unable to return to. Glimmers of worlds now hidden from us.
The Jet Drawing Series II & Somewhere
Direct extensions of the Jet Drawing Series, these series explore the formal qualities of the jet as a reflective material and charcoal as a drafting material. The images are collaged, repeated, and skewed to transform them from the original objects into new forms.
The Jet Drawing Series
A series of large charcoal drawings of Victorian jet mourning jewelry, I am interested in scale and perception. I am intrigued with how the viewer relates to or perceives these historical objects of jewelry when rendered larger than life, out of scale, and how this shift from three dimensions to two parallels a rift between jewelry and fine art.
The jet jewelry that were the models for my drawings were made during the mid to late 19th century carved by hand from jet, a fossilized material similar to coal but more durable. They were worn during a woman's period of mourning after the death of a loved one when wearing conventional precious jewelry would have been deemed inappropriate.
Today these objects seem Gothic, yet contemporary and almost timeless due to their reflective surfaces and monochromatism. Yet today, we could barely imagine reenacting their specific and prescribed sociological role in Victorian society. Both the objects’ timeless beauty and our alienation from their original roles make them perfectly ambiguous when viewed in the scale in which I have rendered them. I am more interested in them for these qualities than any nostalgic longing for gothic mourning.
Rendered as large drawings they become abstracted, transcending their history and meaning and become ominous objects of unknown origin. They invite the viewer to speculate and draw them in. Being trained as both a jeweler and sculptor I am very aware of how people view both fields differently, drawn to them for very different reasons, as well as how the larger art world classifies them. In this current work, I hope to invite the viewer to speculate on the myriad of reasons they might be drawn to the qualities inherent in both jewelry and fine art and perhaps explore what this shift means. How would they perceive these drawings differently if framed behind their couch or worn as a brooch?