Critics’ Picks

View of “sight line.” From left: Among, Between, and After, all 2008.

Portland

Amanda Wojick

Elizabeth Leach Gallery
417 N.W. 9th Avenue
May 1–May 31, 2008

Amanda Wojick creates work with a humble economy of means. She likewise deploys cheap materials—wooden dowels, bright yellow Band-Aids, polystyrene—to achieve an odd balance between solidity and impermanence. In After (all works 2008), clusters of brightly painted thin wooden dowels are held together with rubber bands, which form makeshift joints and create a flimsy, drooping, tentlike structure. The tenuous arrangement seems to have established its current configuration by itself, as if Wojick had only gently urged it into being. With no fixed order to its colors or spatial arrangement, After’s modularity is deceptive, in that its manifestation first appears as an exercise in arbitrary formalism. But while flexible, each dowel services the next structurally. Likewise, the carved and painted polystyrene shapes used in Among are stacked boldly but could just as likely have been arranged differently.

Between, on the other hand, is much more permanent. The freestanding structure is built with hundreds of polystyrene pieces, each one painted with a blue outline on its outward face, stacked in imprecise rows. A goopy intermediate material likens the work to a brick-and-mortar wall. Unlike After or the Band-Aid-on-paper works hung nearby, each element in Between is distinct, making evident the labor, the tedious repetition, invested in its creation. Wojick’s manufacturing processes are varied but always refreshingly straightforward; the pleasure is in beholding how she extracts nuance from her simple operations.