Kyle J. Bauer’s exhibit of various geometric, mixed-media sculptures, titled “don’t fly too close to the sun,” referencing the myth of Icarus, currently inhabits the Rice Gallery on the top floor of Peterson Hall. His sculptures utilize bright colors, such as reds, blues, greens, and oranges; straight, bold, and thick lines; and precise cuts to create appealing, bright contrast in their forms.
In Bauer’s artist statement, he describes that this exhibition “combines metaphorical references to navigation with mixed media sculptural forms.” In his artist’s speech on August 27th, Bauer described his experience with boating and subsequent fascination with navigation, specifically the signs and symbols and how they convey information. He takes the elements of marine navigation and has brought it into his art as a way to “aid [the] viewer as they navigate the gallery space.”
Bauer also credits his history of preservation and restoration of objects from furniture to aging houses as another major inspiration for his artwork. He describes how he builds his sculptures “by arranging, stacking, and piling” their individual elements, thereby “trusting the instincts of building.” His work uses strong foundations, as his art relies heavily on form and the various properties of it: balance, tension, control, elements, and material.
The materials of his sculptures vary from wood, to porcelain, to fiberglass, to mirror, and even Astroturf. His work has been erroneously referred to as “laser-cut,” a flattering though inaccurate indicator of how precise his “old-fashioned” methods are. The overall shapes of his sculptures are mostly slender, but still appear strong and sturdy in their place.
Like Daedalus, Bauer is heavily influenced by architecture and form, easily seen through his creative use of shapes and materials. In fact, Bauer explains that beyond his restoration of old houses, the unique architecture of New Orleans, Louisiana – buildings which are incredibly narrow in front but otherwise very long, in order to avoid heavy taxation – also influences his work, again seen in the slender and strong construction of his pieces.
Bauer, a native to Southern Illinois, came to Baltimore, Maryland in 2011. His work has been displayed at the Walters Art Museum and the Maryland Institute College of Art, and now at our own McDaniel College. His eleven sculptures will be on display until September 25. His sculptures are also for sale and range from $175 to $700 in price. Breon Gilleran’s “SKEPSIS” will be the next Rice Gallery display, opening on October 1.