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Let the Wire Inspire by Angela Hook
Angela Hook : Wire Art — A Whole New Language

Wire Art — A Whole New Language

By Angela Hook

Horse wire sculpture by Angela HookYears of art appreciation and education led me to realize that art can be thought of as a language, spoken only by those Earthlings known as "artists". The remainder of the population requires interpreters in order to understand their messages. Hence, reading about art can be thought of as learning another language. Of course, this is always easier to do if you immerse yourself in the culture. If you want to learn to speak "art", then be an artist.

If you are skeptical, and you are thinking that you could not possibly be an artist because you don't have a creative bone in your body, then you need to remember this: creativity does not come from your bones; it comes from your heart!

By bending your first piece of wire in an unintentional manner, you have uttered your first words. You have articulated a thought in an unknown language. Interestingly, those who already speak "art" will try to decipher your message with great intent.

This phenomenon is similar to that of a baby discovering his voice. The coos and gurgles seem unintentional until the day that one of those sounds resembles a word from the English language. Suddenly, the child is perceived as a genius and has boosted his father's ego tremendously by unknowingly saying "da-da".

Another artist may observe your early works and interpret your message as angst or frustration when, actually, you were just getting comfortable with your new voice.

Wire itself has some adjusting to do to its new position in the fine art world. Having been used for utilitarian purposes for ages (consider ancient Egyptian jewelry, chain mail, shopping carts or cooking utensils), wire has recently had to redefine itself as a viable artistic medium. The idea of using wire to create a sculpture may take artists some getting used to.

The concept of three-dimensional art has been around forever, particularly that of the subtractive kind. When defining sculpture, most people will describe Michelangelo chipping away at a solid mass to reveal the spirit buried within it. This form of sculpture is considered subtractive, because the artist starts with a defined volume and removes what is not needed to arrive at the finished piece.

Additive, or linear sculpture, however, is a relatively recent form of expression. First investigated near the beginning of the 20th Century, the additive construction of three-dimensional art was popularized by artist groups such as the Cubists, Constructivists, and Dadaists. The introduction and availability of new materials around this time in history opened up a whole new world of possibilities for these artists. No longer were they restricted by the eventual size of their work or the limiting properties of their traditional materials. They could keep adding to their sculpture until they ultimately decided that it was done.

The additive process is far more dynamic than the traditional subtractive methods, since there is no pre-determined outcome. A strand of wire is the perfect choice for this type of construction, since it is very flexible and forgiving in its positioning in space. If you find it necessary to adjust an angle or curve after having considered its relationship to the rest of your sculpture, you can. Nothing is set in stone — literally!

When you begin an additive sculpture, you may not have a plan for what you are about to make. You also may not know when to stop. This can be a frightening thing for people who are used to controlling outcomes in their lives. You may have to ramble on nervously in this foreign lingo, as if telling a joke, until the punch line comes to you. Then you will deliver it and step away. Your wire is now art. You are now the artist. •

© 2004 Angela Hook. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from Let the Wire Inspire — Release your Creative Energy, by Angela Hook.

Angela Hook Angela Hook is a Canadian wire artist. Her love of horses is elegantly expressed in the fluid linear sculptures she creates using a single continuous strand of wire. More »