At Hand, an Orchid: Notes on “Deposit Site”
This sculpture is the result of wanting to draw an orchid.
I am quite smitten with orchids. To my eye they are about as close to insects as common household flowers can get, with their wing-shaped petals and dappled patterning. This patterning also reminds me of creeping rashes: Rocky Mountain spotted fever, scarlet fever, poison ivy. In their arthropodity I’m specifically referring to the well-known Phalaenopsis, or moth orchid, the likes of which can be found everywhere from weddings to kitchens, the finest floral shops to Trader Joe’s. That’s where I’ve acquired mine, from our Trader Joe’s, just before the pandemic shuttered our shores. Over the years I’ve had hundreds of moth orchids acquired from specialized breeders to Home Depot alike. I have great success in caring for and coaxing them to bloom once or twice every year, which is another reason I am inclined toward them.
When pandemic lockdown went into effect I took from my studio only the supplies I could fit into my trunk and headed to our small home to make what I could with what I had. A giant moth orchid already occupied our dining-room-turned-studio-table. After a few weeks of watching each other the desire to draw this orchid was strong. This is always how it happens. Currently, I primarily work in sculpture using many objects and materials ranging from preserved and taxidermied animals to silicone to concrete to feathers and yet my brain says: you should draw that.
And draw that I have. For years and years drawing, the hallmark of observational art, was my standard operating procedure. I was dedicated to drawing the things which most fascinate me—insects, flowers, birds, pathological specimens both animal and human—in symbolic or art historical manners. But always with naturalism, always with realism.
Today I am still as concerned with realism as I ever was, perhaps even more so in some ways but that’s another essay entirely. I’m concerned with the realism of the peripheral view, of not staring hard and straight at a thing but of the vision you get when you see it quickly, blurred, passing by in a car, before it flies off, through another person’s photograph (because this is not one’s own vision, not one’s own sight, but the view and seeing of another and therefore exists both outside of and alongside of your own seeing. Once seen it has infected one’s own vision.). But now if I want to draw something then I know it’s the signal that the something is interesting enough to explore and I set to making a sculpture about it.
Thus “Deposit Site” is the result of wanting to draw an orchid. In this particular case it is combined with an interest in funerary and garden sculpture and, as with the rest of my work, concern with the ecological tether between all things.
- Lauren Levato Coyne, 5/23/20