Fall 12

Fall 12: An Autobiography Considering Charles Ray’s “Fall 91” is 97” tall and is fabricated from polyurethane foam, fiberglass, resin and steel. While the sculpture quotes Charles Ray’s iconic figure in scale and posture, it bears two significant modifications: 1) my own likeness was the model for the head, and 2) the figure is draped with a length of orange silk.  Ray appropriated the figure of a department store mannequin and scaled it to suggest the experience of a small child confronting it.  By replacing the mannequin head with my own likeness I convert the figure from object to subject. As an artist who has represented the body for over thirty years and who has incorporated personal experience into her artwork, I chose to depict myself at over eight feet tall as the ultimate autobiography. Perhaps the truth is that we all feel small, even as adults.

While traveling through South India in 2012 I observed hundreds of figure sculptures adorning the Hindu temples that abound in the region. Many of these sculptures were draped with fine cloth by worshippers as puja, or acts of showing reverence, to the deities that the figures represented. As a sculptor with a strong interest in physicality, I found the poetic contrast between the solid materiality of the forms and the colorful decoration, so transient in nature, particularly engaging. These temple figures inspired me to realize a large figure that would function similarly in an urban American environment.

I began the fabrication process in May 2012. Using air-hardening clay, I modeled a 12” doll in a business suit, one that resembled the garment that dressed Ray's piece. The small figure was scanned, scaled to eight feet, and then digitally milled from blocks of polyurethane foam. The foam parts were assembled into a standing figure coated with epoxy cloth and resin and supported by a steel armature. I spent many months refining the surface of the form by additive and subtractive processes.

Many viewed Ray’s “Fall 91” as the intimidating stereotype of the late twentieth century career woman. I aimed to overhaul this view. The rust finish that coats my sculpture implies the passage of time and suggests that the “steely career focus” that Ray’s figure exudes is outdated.  The rectangular length of silk draped over one shoulder is a sari, an article of clothing worn traditionally by women in India for five thousand years.   The orange color symbolizes fire and religion. The sari of Fall 12: An Autobiography considering Charles Ray’s “Fall 91” implies that the figure is guided by a tradition that honors devotion, service, meditation and knowledge, the pillars of Vedic philosophy. It represents the incorporation of a global consciousness and an expanded field of understanding.

From statement by Phyllis Green regarding sculpture Fall 12: An Autobiography Considering Charles Ray’s “Fall 91” , 2012-13, polyurethane foam, steel, fiberglass, silk, 97” x 45” x  30”