Born and raised in Reno, Nevada, a city with one museum and one major gallery, Nick Van Woert's mixed-media practice evolved from doodles, drawings, and models, then moved, in architecture school, towards sculpture. He attended Parsons for his MFA and now makes works that take on the history of art, design, and sculpture-only bend, break, douse, lean and stretch them. His work is on view through October 23 in an exhibition at Grimm Gallery in Amsterdam entitled "She-Wolf," named for the wolf mother who raised Romulus and Remus in the foundational myth of Rome. He will debut a solo show at Yvon Lambert in New York in the spring.
I was reading about ancient Roman town planning and I came across this guy that went by the name Haruspex. You could say a Haruspex was a well respected religious soothsayer. He would sacrifice and dissect animals found on a plot of land where a new city or camp might be built. The animals entrails were examined, and if the guts proved healthy the Haruspex would assume, often times by bribery, that the land the animal was living on was also healthy, in which case the plot was deemed suitable for building.
I got this fiberglas statue, which is taken from a 5th Century Etruscan bronze warrior found in a shipwreck, broke him in half. I use a lot of classically inspired statues. I like the way they hijack the history of sculpture. They have all of the earmarks of classicism and reference theour past and how we used to think of ourselves. When you consider how they were made—why they were made and what they are made of—it becomes clear there is nothing classical or old about them despite their appearance.
Using a garbage bag as my mold, I filled him with layers of trash found in an empty lot adjacent to my studio. Each layer is a different material from gravel, fake gold chains, rubber gloves, beer bottles, tiles, cigarette butts, flies, Monster energy drink cans, bricks, parking tickets, plastic bags, concrete to foam and more. His guts are the guts of the city.
The connection between the top portion of the piece and layers of earth was fully anticipated and welcomed. I knew the layers of material would appear like strata, but throughout the process of layering I wasn't able to see how it was all adding up. Not until the box was removed and the garbage bag stripped away did I see all of the folds and colors. Going back to the story of the Haruspex, healthy entrails meant healthy land. There was a direct connection between the body of the animal and the landscape it was found in. The entrails mirrored the landscape and the guts of the sculpture mirror the landscape outside my studio.
In his latest solo exhibition, "non-lieu, non sites" (which one might translate as "dismissed cases, dismissed places"), Algerian-born French art...