Amy Bagwell and Kit Kube create mixed media sculptures that could not look more different, but they share some striking commonalities: both honor things that others discard and both evince a yearning for connection.
These Charlotte artists use salvaged and collected objects in their work, but Kube looks to the world of physics, while Bagwell heads straight to the attic.
The Ross Galleries at Central Piedmont Community College currently feature solo exhibitions by Bagwell, whose mixed media assemblages combine atmospheric poems and wistful objects, and Kube, whose kinetic sculptures fill darkened rooms with brilliant light.
Separation and loss
Bagwell’s poem-centered sculptures are convergences of family treasures, objects from thrift and hardware stores, and things that sometimes seem strewn in front of her, as if fate has intervened to provide her with resources. Her raw materials include books, boxes, maps, preserved insects and display cases.
She writes the poems first, not thinking about where they might go until they are finished. Not every poem makes it way into a sculpture.
In her exhibition “The Factories Don’t Install Emotion Tapes,” the poems are about separation and loss. “It’s all a doomed love story,” says Bagwell, who teaches English literature and composition at CPCC.
Bagwell, 42, grew up in Columbus, Ga., near a tornado alley.
For “Down to a Whisper,” she took the innards of a music box and put them in a box that belonged to her grandfather, replaced the ballerina with a wire twister, and covered the interior of the box with a map that includes the tornado-prone Georgia-Alabama border.
Scattered across the map are plastic ampersands, representing tornado touchdowns, and the ballerina, now tossed aside.
The poem, which is mounted inside the lid of the box, hints that the twister could be a force of nature or a personal disaster.
Bagwell intentionally damaged the music-box cylinder; it once played “Lara’s Theme,” but it now sounds like a malevolent wind chime.
Tools of investigation
Kube, 55, makes sophisticated sculptures that combine movement, light and shadow.
He prizes the artifacts he finds at scrap yards for their intrinsic beauty and the history they carry with them.
Kube’s exhibition, “Turbulent Trajectories,” consists of a single sculpture – a strange little wonderland of lights, fine mesh screening, a titanium ring (one of his scrap yard treasures) and other materials.
The most prominent element is a rotating disc filled with thousands of tiny glass beads that are used to make reflective paint for striping roads. As the disc moves, the beads shift, alternately piling up, falling and settling in an effect Kube characterizes as “almost seismic.”
There is just one light source – three tiny bulbs near the bottom of the sculpture; the light travels through the mesh and beads, refracting and scattering throughout the dark gallery.
The sculpture has beauty and intrigue on its own; its effect on the room constitutes another work of art.
Although the piece seems to be about optics, it is also emotionally unsettling. The title, “Scree Riding With Alamente,” suggests its deeper meaning.
To Kube the glass beads represent scree – loose gravel on a slope – the epitome of impermanence and instability; Alamente was the imaginary childhood friend of his late sister, Teresa.
Kube thinks of his sculptures not as finished objects but as tools of investigation. Here, the investigation is both scientific and personal.
This article is part of the Charlotte Arts Journalism Alliance, a consortium of local media dedicated to writing about the arts.
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