Lynda Cronin brings her conceptually driven series Arti fact (2015) to Autumn Gallery. Cronin’s creative process for the series began by walking and extracting objects from the remains of a local school - now a farmer’s field - overlooking the Cookstown River. Discovering different ordinary objects underneath mud and demolition, Cronin approached her findings as artifacts with their own distinctive value. Cronin centers her series on these found-forms, considering their individual history, materiality, and significance within contemporary culture.
“These ordinary objects are the items of daily life, mass produced plastic toys rescued from a derelict local school which had suffered the effects of a landslide, crushing the building and burying all items within. Later, the demolition crew hauled away the structure leaving only fragments behind in the mud. Excavating each small form reveals a story about a particular time and place, a geography where moments happened and where these bits and pieces are testament to a place that was alive and thriving. These salvaged artifacts are revealed much like an archeologist slowly revealing the layers through examination, observation and recording.”
Representing the story of the objects through different mediums, including drawings, photography and book-works, Cronin’s show at Autumn exhibits the print segment of the series. Cronin infers, “Then the work is changed again, through printing and photography, and creates an organic visual narrative that by its own bias is based on present day interpretations of a previous time.” Beginning as an exploration of the “art object,” reminiscent of the Duchampian ready-made, Cronin’s series gives these pieces a newfound status and means of social and visual interpretation. Using the ordinary objects as visual reference for her linocuts, Cronin’s printmaking process involves the balancing act of pressing the linoleum blocks with her body weight onto the vinyl sheets. Each print is unique due to the visual variations caused by the pressure and position of the blocks, the sequence in which they are placed on the vinyl, and the different selection of colors used. Cronin intuitively applies the blocks in random sequences, as if in homage to how the objects were discovered. Cronin’s repetitive use of the linocuts gives the series a visually thematic effect. Each piece has similar imagery and yet it differs in interpretation- an equation to be deciphered.
The objects Cronin has found serve as an index of her journey and represent her relationship to the designated land. Cronin’s process is centered around the human experience of a landscape, as both the body and the environment are in motion. There is a relationship between Cronin and the derelict local school, and walking lends itself to representing a human subject embedded in the world. Cronin’s role of the artist has changed to encompass the process of an explorer and a social geographer, stating, “[Walking] is a really good way to discover places that are hidden away, tucked behind something or other… The vinyl drawings act a method of recording the objects as they are placed and categorized, finding connections and building a vocabulary of events imagined.” In this sense Cronin is indexing the material remnants of the land so that these objects may function as visual narratives. Cronin’s prints are indexical abstraction of the physical trace of the landscape and explore how nature and culture are inseparable in the production of the landscapes.
By aestheticizing the found objects, Cronin is also giving them a new ambiguity and visual means of interpretation. There is a fictitious element to the prints, as the artist derives a visual representation of the objects themselves. Cronin abstracts them further in order to respond and evolve the story of their collective past. By specifically using vinyl as her medium for the prints, Cronin argues “Vinyl is an interesting medium without any real connection to Art works; like the way canvas is to painting. Perhaps we think more of ordinary items like tables and chairs, wallpaper, in relation to vinyl. It's a tabula rasa for ideas to flourish, not really confining in any way.” Cronin’s work examines how trifling items can carry meaning with them, as historic artifacts, and make a connection between place and time. Arti fact prompts the question; how do we understand objects when their physical structure and the people who defined them are gone?