Moveable Wall Sculpture

A Commentary

by Ceramic Artist Lisa Westheimer, West Orange, NJ

The works in the mixed media series Taking Time Apart by artist Linda Vonderschmidt-LaStella do not quietly hang on the wall to be considered in passing- they throw down a gauntlet and challenge the viewer to engage.

Wall hung works made of clay, found objects, embossed with text and in some, photographic imagery present a united front in the conflicting states of life and death and all the messy, busy business in between.

The text is challenging, pointed, circular and in some cases reads like a ransom note. “What do you see when you take time apart?” demands one piece, with emphasis on the word “see” with a metal ring framing it like a target. The eye is then drawn to the imagery in its center: the innards of a huge rusting piece of equipment long past its prime. Several others do the same, asking us to take apart our own notions of time in text composed on surfaces strewn with broken bits of watch parts, images of rusting useless hulks of machinery, and in one haunting case, a disembodied hand holding a useless clock movement.

Others in the series use the natural world to shake us up: leaves and tree-like shapes contain the words: “Only time is a part of it all but definitely a part of it all and takes us apart from it all.” In another, the words “In time leaves part from their tree/A part of the tree for awhile/They part with it then like us/They enter the swirl of time” hang under a tree, its canopy composed of red autumnal leaves and a sprung watch movement, both having completed their life cycle, ready to fall away.

What are we to make of these freeze frames in time? Is it like the altered dimension in time one enters upon viewing an x ray of their sick body, knowing things will never be the same? How our bodies may one day become like the moldering, hulking machine obviously meant to spin with vigor, purpose and strength now silent, broken and dead? Are our days as numbered as dying leaves on a tree waiting to fall? Are we looking at the end when we take time apart?

Each piece stands alone to pose its own challenge. Each tells its own story through texture, color, shape and embellishment. We are asked how we use time and how it uses us and also challenged to find a way to control it, but the works, in their deconstructed and fragmented way remind us we cannot.