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Sandra Menefee Taylor Sandra Menefee Taylor

 

 

As an artist whose fidelity is to the touch, the feel, the smell, the texture, first — before all the mental considerations of what I do — I call myself a materialist.

Memories of childhood are about:

  • The feel of a handmade quilt with percale so smooth I long to touch it still.
  • The dirt that has an aroma that will forever be welcome and recognizable to my nose.
  • The rasp of an oversize bovine tongue across a small face.

So as a visual maker it is no surprise to me that when I connect to a project, I go first to the material that will give the feel that I want the work to be about. Then, the processes of intellect, order and research are waiting to be called into the project.

Bone Boat (detail)
Bone Boat (detail)
West Gallery
Salt Cellar (1 of 3)
"Salt Cellar" (1 of 3)
West Gallery

When I was asked to be part of this 100-year anniversary, I knew I would use salt as the material for this installation.

Salt is the reminder of body, blood, ocean, earth, food. It is used in rituals in all cultures to signify sacred space, sacred bonds and sacred pacts. It is used to cast out evil. It preserves nourishment (life). And it is a most beautiful mineral.

To me, all of these are aspects of why women would make, preserve, defend and nurture a place for women’s learning and spirit. These aspects are what give rise to my thought of being “inspirited”. This also is why the knowledge and poetry of Nor Hall had to accompany this exhibition.

Presence Wall (detail)
"Presence Wall" (detail)
West Gallery
Breating Wall Kites (detail)
"Breathing Wall Kites " (detail)
West Gallery

A common thread in my work is to ask and include the voice of the people whose lives the installation might speak to or about. Therefore “making and telling” sessions were held with people of the College. These groups did two things, one — they were asked to speak about what inspires them, and two — to make a salt clay figure. These figures make up the “presence wall” in the East Gallery and the voice is from our conversation.

So with the help of many — most especially Professor Patricia Olson, Gallery Director Kathy Daniels, Preparator Tom Grant, author Nor Hall, faithful art workers Claire Simonson, Anne Ballentine, John Baird, Jean Wright, Ken Friberg, Melaine VonHouton, Kristin Baird, Linda Gammell and Rebecca Pavlenko, and all of you generous souls who gave time and energy to our “making and telling” sessions — my sincere thanks to you all.

Sandra Menefee Taylor