Crocker Art Museum
Therman Statum's Constantinople
In honor of Black History Month, Therman Statum's Constantinople will be on view through February 27, 2000. Assembled on site by Statum and his assistants, the glass room was significantly modified for this installation. Statum, who lives near San Diego, taught this past semester at California College of Arts and Crafts in Oakland and was able to make several trips to Sacramento to add new elements inspired by the Museum's octagonal Ose gallery.
The son of a physician, Statum was raised in Washington, DC, where he viewed paintings by Francis Bacon, Mary Cassatt, and other great artists in local museum collections. Statum studied at the Pilchuck Glass School in Washington State, as well as at the Rhode Island School of Design and Pratt Institute. Although his academic degrees are in sculpture, he equally enjoys painting, as evidenced by the vibrant colors and brushwork that embellish his glass sculptures and room-sized environments.
Statum is best known for plate glass constructions of familiar objects, including ladders, chairs, and houses. These transparent structures are adhered with silicon rubber; they both encase and support a variety of found and fabricated objects. The contrast of smooth and sandblasted surfaces, use of acrylic paint to create abstract forms and decorative elements, and snippets of scrawled writing contribute to the visual and thematic complexity of Statum's work. Although his motifs derive from numerous sources, and are often related to personal experiences, Statum strives to give viewers "a lot of room for interpretation--like a big painting"--rather than a predetermined narrative.
The title of his work refers to the artist's fascination with Constantinople, a place he has wanted to visit. That the city served as a trade route, and consequently a cultural crossroads and "the center of the world as conceived at that time," intrigues Statum. The proportions of Constantinople, including the entrance and the opening at the top, are identical to those of the Hagia Sophia; an allusion reinforced by the minaret shapes that adorn the walls. Among the on-going interests that Statum explores is the impact "of scale and how we move through space," and the ways people read symbols. The outsized chair and large blown glass vessels that accompany the installation intensify these elements. Statum also enjoys exploiting contrasts in his constructions; he appreciates that glass is permanent, yet appears constantly changing; that a material of great strength is perceived as fragile. .
Statum's work has been featured in exhibitions throughout the United States and Europe. In addition, he has created important public art works, including three impressive chandeliers for the Los Angeles Central Public Library and an installation at the Los Angeles Metro-Rail Pearl Street Station. Constantinople was featured in the recent exhibition Material Witness: Masters from California Crafts, which was jointly organized by the Crocker Art Museum and the Creative Arts League of Sacramento.
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For further biographical information on selected artists cited above please see America's Distinguished Artists, a national registry of historic artists.
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