Artist Chad Andrews installs silicone artwork at LCCC’s Schulman Gallery
NANTICOKE — Chances are, a person buying silicone at a home improvement store expects to caulk a window or door.
But ever since the day, about 11 years ago, that Chad Andrews was helping his brother work on his cabin and noticed the way a bit of silicone had dropped onto plastic sheeting, the Williamsport-area artist has seen new possibilities for the polymer.
“It held its shape,” he said. “It was beautiful.”
Visitors to Luzerne County Community College’s Schulman Gallery will be able to see shapes Andrews has drawn with silicone in an exhibit titled “Heavy Construction/Delicate Destruction,” which will be on display through Sept. 15.
His subject matter includes backhoes, tractors and a combine — heavy equipment he sees all the time living on a family farm in Montoursville and having a brother-in-law in the construction business.
That’s the “Heavy Construction” part of the theme. The “Delicate Destruction” refers to the way man-made items start to decay as soon as they’re assembled.
“They start rusting once they’re done,” said the artist, who used a drip effect —it almost appears as if tractors and backhoes are melting — to represent that thought.
“In street art, the drip is part of the vocabulary. It’s graffiti-like and gestural,” Andrews said. “I like the energy of it.”
Andrew, who is on the faculty at Bloomsburg University, sketched the exhibit pieces first, then drew them with silicone on plastic sheeting in his Williamsport art studio.
“If I tried to do that here,” he said, standing in the Schulman Gallery on Monday morning, “we’d all be wearing face masks.”
Andrews rolled up his pieces and brought them to the gallery, where he spent several days over the past two weeks installing them.
That involved painstakingly pulling off the plastic sheeting and adjusting each piece to fit its temporary home on the gallery walls. “Sometimes I add tension,” he said. “Sometimes I let it sag.”
As she helped Andrews install the exhibit, Schulman Gallery director Wanda Riley said some 10-to-14-year-olds who were taking part in an art camp on the LCCC campus had stopped by to see the work.
“Their initial impression was ‘Wow!’” she said, adding several of the youngsters mentioned they were dismayed to learn Andrews will recycle rather than keep the pieces when the exhibit is over.
But the transitory nature of his art is part of what makes it special, Riley said.
Because Andrews is always jotting down new ideas, she added, “He impressed on them the idea that an artist should always carry a sketch book, everywhere.”
The installation of the silicone pieces is as much a part of the creative process as the drawing, Andrews said, pointing out that when he attaches them to the wall there is enough distance between art and wall to allow for movement as people walk by and create a breeze. He likes that effect.
Andrews attached his installations to the wall with straight pins which he keeps in a pin cushion he wears on his wrist.
“A seamstress friend of mine gave it to me,” he said. “It’s easier than working with pins in my mouth.”
Reach Mary Therese Biebel at 570-991-6109 or on Twitter @BiebelMT.
IF YOU GO
What: ‘Heavy Construction/Delicate Destruction’ solo exhibit
Who: By artist Chad Andrews
Where: Schulman Gallery, Luzerne County Community College campus, Nanticoke
When: 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Mondays through Fridays through Sept. 15
Artist reception: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Sept. 14, with gallery talk at 11:15 a.m.