All Natural, an exhibition of work by Philadelphia-based sculptural installation artist Chad Curtis, explores the dialectic of the biological and the mechanical. Curtis utilizes highly processed and digitally manipulated sculptural materials like clay, plastic, cardboard, plywood and foam creating a simulated experience that recontextualizes our largely mediated lived existence. According to the artist, his work “draws inspiration from both digital technology and homebrew DIY makers examining the effects of high technology on the relationship between human beings and the natural environment.”*
For this exhibition, Curtis designed and constructed an eighteen-foot tall mountain out of cardboard using computer drafting software and hand cutting and assembling 262 cardboard triangles with carton tape. The mountain is paired with his drawing machine invention, which created a panoramic landscape on the gallery wall that viewers encounter as they enter the space. According to Curtis, “I am interested in the relationship of the two-dimensional panoramic landscape with the atmospheric perspective and depth of field of the mountain itself.”**
Utilizing the pyramidal form of the gallery for his design, Curtis embraced the playful notion of bringing a mountain to low-lying Florida. The simulated dislocation of landscape creates a façade that transports us somewhere else yet the simplicity of the material, cardboard, evokes childhood constructions or an “adult fort” as Curtis likes to call it. By contrasting imagery from nature with highly synthetic and controlled installations that display a seductive attraction to materials, Curtis explores the boundaries between what is real and natural, and what is manufactured.
-Amy Bowman-McElhone, Director Curator, TAG UWF
*Chad Curtis, “Biography,” chaddcurtis.com/biography
**Chad Curtis, interview by author, 28 January 2012, Pensacola, Florida.