Artists speak the language of signs and symbols, form and color. It’s the Logical Brain that needs to name things because it takes everything literally.
If I listened exclusively to the left side of my brain, I would never get beyond the raw materials in my medium, which are dried gourds. If I hold a raw gourd in my hands, my Logical Brain would say, “It’s a gourd.” And that would be that. My Artist Mind might chime in with, “Well, we could decorate it,” And I’d end up with a nicely decorated gourd.
But what if I jumped completely into my right brain where, in the absence of “naming things”, that gourd is simply a form? I could carve it, burn it, add pine cone petals, take it completely apart and reconstruct it differently and it could become anything other than what it originally was. But I would first have to let go of it being a gourd.
Jenny Horstman’s work brilliantly epitomizes how the right-brained sum of seemingly unrelated parts yields a structural whole that both sides of the brain can appreciate.
Horstman’s sculptures begin as bits of scrap metal and random pieces of discarded hardware. Imagine, once again, if her Logical Brain came across a bicycle chain and didn’t allow her to see it serving any other purpose than powering the wheels of a bike. She’d take it to a bike shop so it could continue to be useful.
But her Artist self brings that chain into her studio and it becomes the mane of a horse.
Look closely at her work, and you can make out springs and chains, nuts and bolts, hoes and hammers. Step back, and you see a horse. Observing her work is like having a ping pong ball bouncing back and forth from one side of the brain to the other.
“Transforming discarded items into new sculptural entities presents a aesthetic challenge for the viewer,” she says of her work. “The identity of the original found items disappears into the sculpture, while at the same time encouraging the observer to discover the original, familiar objects within the composition.”
So when is a horse not a horse? Ask an artist.