Q & A: Dee Briggs
Pittsburgh-based sculptor discusses the inspiration behind her large-scale installation for the Center for Sustainable Landscapes.
As a sculptor, Dee Briggs works primarily with carbon and Cor-ten steel, aluminum, bronze and concrete. She is currently constructing a large-scale, ceiling mounted sculpture for the Center for Sustainable Landscapes (CSL). Featuring highly ordered geometric forms which will cascade through all three floors of the CSL atrium, the installation will create an unexpected rhythmic space containing limitless perceptual contradictions: three-dimensional patterns that are at once familiar and foreign, heavy forms that imply weightlessness, and delightful spatial experiences. We took a few minutes with Dee to discuss this exciting new installation, which visitors can expect to see this summer.
How did you first become interested in sculpting?
In 1999, while in graduate school studying architecture, I was asked to explore building materials at a human scale using my hands – that was really the beginning.
What mediums do you work in?
I’m interested in all materials but tend toward material used in the building industry, like steel, aluminum and concrete.
Where do you get the inspiration for your sculptures?
It depends on the type of work. You can pretty neatly divide my work into formal/spatial or social/political. The formal/spatial work is inspired to a large degree by geometry and this is how I would describe the piece I’m making for the CSL atrium. The social/political work is always inspired by the situation or context.
Can you describe the concept of the piece you are creating for the CSL?
The ideas, or concepts, I have been dealing with and exploring in my work are based in mathematics, architecture and experience. I am particularly interested in geometry, symmetry and rhythm – line, plane and volume – visual perception and spatial understanding.
Much of my work to date has grown out of a specific obsession with chirality (a property of asymmetry), or handedness. This is the governing principle in the CSL sculpture. Three-dimensional objects that are chiral do not have an internal plane of symmetry and can be mirrored three dimensionally, but the left and right cannot be superimposed. Chirality is a very common characteristic in many areas of chemistry and biology. It describes parts (left and right) of the human body, like our hands. Using very simple geometric forms – in this case circles – I apply this more complex operation of symmetry and create the components and compositions of my work.
The CSL project is site specific, incorporating elements of light and movement, allowing me to create a dialogue with the architectural context and a powerful human experience as the work becomes experiential as visitors move up and down the atrium staircase.
What impact do you hope your piece has on CSL visitors?
I hope that it will excite and intrigue them and encourage visitors of all ages to think about nature’s many complex systems.
Photo © Natalia Gomez
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