Brian Cavanaugh

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BRIAN CAVANAUGH received his BFA from the Columbus College of Art and Design, Ohio and his MFA from the University of Illinois at Chicago.  But it wasn’t until after school that his real education began.  For 15 years Cavanaugh designed/built educational and natural history exhibits. He has built life-sized, walk-through re-creation environments for the John G. Shedd Aquarium and the Chicago Field Museum of Natural History.  While working full-time, he also took every opportunity to show his art in the galleries of Chicago.  Working in the post-modern, found object, “Arte Povera” tradition, Cavanaugh describes his work as having a basis in science and nature.  His work walks a fine line between art and artifact, but really deals with issues of contemporary condition. The sculpture is about itself, art as commodity and metaphoric alchemy “I’ve been told that the work looks like props from a movie,” he says.  “The characters and plotline left foggy, are up to the viewers endless interpretations!”

Artist Statement:

“My art background began in early childhood. I have always tried to retain that sense of discovery.”

 I reuse and juxtapose discarded objects and utilitarian materials into mixed media constructions. The previous functions or purposes are woven and blended until a new sculpture remains.

 These remains reveal much about the process of making, but leave the underlying reasons for selection and combination of materials up to the endless interpretations of the viewer. Individual components or parts of sculptures retain the original “signifier” meaning as well as metaphor or multiple meanings.  The new function is one of contemplation about previous invention and present non-function.

The modern world discards and wastes faster than all the “found object artists” of the world could ever recycle in their combined lifetimes. Merely using old stuff in art as an environmental statement is too easy an answer for me. The sum of those parts has to achieve more than a compilation of materials. The underlying meanings of those objects must cooperate or contradict to a degree that surpasses the common denominator. The juxtaposition has to result in a construction not of things, but a construction of meanings.