Bayne Peterson’s voice in the “Dialogue on Distortion”
Originating from California, Bayne Peterson is an artist who lives and works in Providence, Rhode Island. Peterson received a BA from Vassar College, followed by a MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design. Most recently, Bayne Peterson’s unique plywood sculptures have been featured in solo, joint, and group exhibitions from Kristen Lorello gallery in New York to Western Exhibitions gallery in Chicago, IL to the Toyama Prefectural Museum of Art and Design in Toyama, Japan. His joint exhibition with Graham McDougal, A Dialogue on Distortion, is on-view at PC–G’s Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery from November 30th through February 24, 2018.
Jessica Rogers (JR): Could you explain your process of creating your plywood sculptures? Do you have an idea in mind of what you want to create prior to the actual physical process?
Bayne Peterson (BP): I usually start with a general idea of what I want to do. Sometimes I make sketches or models. But oftentimes seeing the sculpture partway through the process will give me ideas that are more interesting than anything I could initially sketch or model. That’s why I usually try not to spend too much time in the planning phase and just dive in.
The large-scale plywood sculpture, however, started with a digital fabrication phase: I laser cut the layers of plywood from a 3D scan of an earlier handmade sculpture before gluing them together and carving the surface of the piece. So going into that piece I had a pretty specific idea of what the result would be: I knew it would be formally similar, at a larger scale, to the piece that I 3D scanned. But it wasn’t until later in the process that I decided to add the sand to the top.
JR: For this two-person exhibition, I understand that you did not collaborate with Graham McDougal in the process. Because of the clear connection to McDougal’s silkscreens, could you explain the process of creating this joint exhibition and choosing pieces for the show?
Graham and I visited each other’s studios and had a few conversations over the course of 2017. I was excited about the commonalities in our work and I was especially interested in the fact that we were both using forms of scanning to make the work for this show. He uses a (2D) scanner, and I use a 3D scanner. I made two new pieces for this show, the small-scale 3D print and the large-scale plywood and sand sculpture, and both originated from the 3D scan I mentioned above.
The other pieces in the show are from 2015, and their selections came from conversations with Jamilee. She chose to show two dyed plywood sculptures that are some of the first sculptures that I made with this material. When I started working with dyed plywood, I was just having fun with it, almost like sketching or doodling, without thinking about whether or not anyone else would see it. I think it’s interesting to have playful pieces like this alongside more serious ones, like the two wall pieces that she chose from that same year.
Is being part of a joint show a familiar experience for you?
I’ve been in two two-person shows before this show, one with Hao Ni and one with Nadia Haji Omar, who will be doing the next On the Wall exhibition at Providence College Galleries, and both were great experiences. A two-person show is a nice middle ground between a group show and a solo show. With a group show you get to draw comparisons between artists but you don’t get to see a significant body of work from a single artist the way you do in a solo show. With a two-person show you get the best of both worlds.
Along with being a joint presentation, this exhibition shows the distinct work of the artists separately. Is there a theme to your work in this exhibition?
There are several themes. The relationship between form and pattern is a major one. I’m interested in how linear patterns can both translate and define forms, in the way that, for example, topographical lines on a map help us to understand hills and valleys. Materially, there is a repetition of stone, gravel, and sand throughout my work in the show. Even the 3D print is made of a material that the manufacturer calls sandstone. To me, these materials bring to mind geologic time and ancient history, which creates a contrast to other references in the work to the current moment and digital culture. There are other similar themes of old and new that come through in the process of the work, such as between traditional handcraft and digital fabrication.
What role does color play in your sculptures? Do you have a procedure for your decision to dye your sculptures, or not dye your sculptures, such as in your large piece featured in this exhibition?
I don’t really have a procedure for color decisions. It depends on the work. In the case of the large wood and sand sculpture, I wanted it to have a naturally worn look, like driftwood or something else that has been shaped by elements over time like a desert rock formation. That’s why I left the surface just sanded with no finish.
Color intensity sometimes seems more appropriate at a smaller scale. With the two small dyed plywood sculptures, the color adds a vibrancy that I feel gives the work more presence and visual impact despite its small stature.
Were you at all influenced by the space of the Hunt-Cavanagh Gallery when creating and choosing pieces for this show?
The large size of the gallery gave me an opportunity to make a sculpture at a much larger scale than I normally do. It was fun to work on but it was also a challenge because of its weight. I think it weighs at least 200 pounds. I had to install a heavy-duty chain pulley from the ceiling of my studio just to be able to move it around so I could work on different sides.