Jon Isherwood’s stone sculptures harness the power of duality within a single, unified medium. His sculptures seem simultaneously hard and soft, rough and smooth, geometric and organic, ancient and modern. This tension between contrasting qualities makes Isherwood’s work distinctive and engaging—the viewer frequently is drawn in for a closer look and called back for a second glance.
Isherwood also unifies another set of opposites, digital and analogue, in a working process that combines the exacting actions of computer-controlled stone carving technology and the intimate, tactile craft of sculpting by hand. The artist first envisions the abstract form he wishes to create, often sketching it or creating a small clay model. With the aid of a special computer program, the sculpture is carved using a digitally-controlled cutting mechanism. The artist then completes the work by hand using finishing tools such as chisels and sandpaper. Combined with the natural veining of the stone, Isherwood’s signature alternation of rough, chiseled marks and slick polished surfaces create intricate layers of texture and pattern.
DeCordova is pleased to present several examples of Isherwood’s abstract sculptures from the past decade. Three of Isherwood’s vessel-like sculptures, Inner Sense, Place Your Thoughts, and Things are not always what they seem, are on view on the Museum Terrace. The associative qualities inherent in these non-representational forms allow the viewer to interpret and appreciate the sculptures in his/her own way as the objects evoke many things—ceramic vessels, swelling architectural forms, draped fabric, ancient objects, and modernist sculpture, to name a few.
On view in the School Courtyard, Turning Points is pair of large, gourd-shaped black and red granite objects. Each almost life-sized form features bold geometric surface patterns that conform to the contours of the sculpture’s organic shape while also contrasting with its curvy silhouette. As is the case with Isherwood’s smaller-scale sculptures, Turning Points elicits many visual comparisons—botanical forms, musical instruments, or bodily organs—and beckons the viewer to inspect the objects closely, so as to more clearly see all their meticulous details. For example, when looking at the largest circumference of the black granite sculpture, one might notice the carved lines shift alternatively from glossy to unpolished with such subtle gradation that they almost resemble a pixelated digital image transfer. This purposeful detail adds a layer of intrigue to the sculptural form while perhaps cleverly referencing the sculpture’s birth from technology.
Jon Isherwood studied at Canterbury and Leeds College of Art before receiving his MFA from Syracuse University, NY. Currently, Isherwood runs the sculpture program at Bennington College in Vermont. As president of the Digital Stone project, Isherwood offers resources for artists wanting to incorporate digital technologies in their work. Isherwood has had solo shows at venues such as John Davis Gallery, New York, NY; Brill Gallery, North Adams, MA; C. Grimaldis Gallery, Baltimore, MD, and Reeves Contemporary New York, NY.