Dawn Steeves

Structure: Cage and Column

September 10 – October 29, 2021  |  City Gallery

Artist Statement

Structure is at the base of everything, in family, government, religion, the environment, the economy, a human body, or a building. Structure is the skeleton that holds a thing together and stabilizes it. My goal for this series is to focus on the rudimentary aspects of the word structure and to depict these aspects within 2-dimensional visual formats.

Throughout the process of making this work, I imagined structures which are operative in societal cohesion, systems whose functions vary from providing us with food and electricity to our education, political systems and so on—structure within systems. Some of these structures are very rigid and abide within a strict geometrical and mathematical hierarchy, while others are more organic and fluid as they grow and twist to form support for biological networks and bodies. For instance, as I thought about institutions within society, I imagined workspaces and workers in neat rows surrounded by windows and fences, squares and rectangles, flat planes and right angles, straight and parallel lines. The physical surroundings facilitate an internal structure, instilling each individual in the system with routine and discipline, developing neuropathways and culture to produce well-structured individuals who work well in groups.

The physical structure of our biological systems is beautiful and rhythmic. I included in this series some enlarged fish and human skeletal forms in order to actualise the basis for this entire series. Creating three-dimensional form on a two-dimensional surface requires the structure of artmaking itself including the incorporation of line, composition, perspective, values, repetition, and the very act of “building” a painting in layers.

Like mandalas these works can be seen as objects of meditation. Each form represents a body, a system, or a human-made obstruction in nature.