Picked up a piece of airport art at a garage sale. I believe that the lady said it was from Kenya. It is a chain, carved from a single piece of wood with a stylized head at each end.
The chain has a nice heft. I hung it in my office and it contributed well to the décor. I used to stare at it while pretending to listen on the phone and it began to create patterns in my mind. Here was a physical rendering of a spiritual concept as many in Africa see life in terms of linkages.
I have a why center in my brain. I began asking why the chain as symbol was not more prevalent across cultures and why couldn’t I generate something along these lines.
Some possibilities came up. It occurred to me to create a version of the piece in my office. Make the chain long, steel, of stout links, and create heads representing some duality such as woman/man, black/white, etc. The black/white option appealed to me as I could imagine the long and rusty chain slung over some post in darkness above and the heads side-by-side and touching in a pool of light at eye level. They would be generalized images made of something heavy enough to put a tension on the chain – maybe cast iron. They would have a worn aspect as though from collisions with each other. The idea was reserved for another day.
That was one direction. It soon became evident that I had options galore as most anything can be linked up. Have you a stuffed bear and a roll of chicken wire? Link them. And chains come in all sizes and types and suit all manner of purposes. Where to begin?
One solution was a reach for simplicity in a workable medium. Shown here is an example of linked rectangles in wood, made by standard framing techniques.
This, at least, takes care of one possibility. I enjoy the gentle draping effect of these intertwined shapes.
At the same time I made a garish example meant to be blunt.
And recently I made this simple piece employing a bicycle chain concept.
Are they as nice as the Kenyan piece? No. But they do give me a place to stand as I figure what to do next.
But, for me, this remains terra incognita. I’ve scanned the net and found nothing that seems to touch on this subject in any significant way. Neither have I found book or article. But this may be willful ignorance on my part. If you know of somebody working in this general area or of a related source of information, then I’d like to hear from you.