NYCU | Erin Shirreff & Tony Smith Go Way Back

Erin Shirreff, "Sculpture for Snow" (2011), installed at MetroTech Commons in Downtown Brooklyn as part of the Public Art Fund exhibition, "A Promise Is a Cloud," 2011. Production still from the "New York Close Up" film, "Erin Shirreff & Tony Smith Go Way Back." © Art21, Inc. 2013.

Erin Shirreff, Sculpture for Snow (2011), installed at MetroTech Commons in Downtown Brooklyn as part of the Public Art Fund exhibition, A Promise Is a Cloud, 2011. Production still from the New York Close Up film, Erin Shirreff & Tony Smith Go Way Back. © Art21, Inc. 2013.

What happens when an image feels more real than the real thing itself?

While deinstalling Sculpture for Snow (2011) in Downtown Brooklyn, artist Erin Shirreff discusses the creation and inspiration for her first public sculpture. Intrigued by book reproductions of the twentieth century American sculptor Tony Smith’s large-scale outdoor works, Shirreff describes visiting an actual Smith sculpture only to realize that there was a lot “more romance and mystery in the image.” In response Shirreff created her first video work, Sculpture Park (Tony Smith) (2006), a black and white video of Tony Smith sculptures revealed by falling snow (actually, tabletop sized cardboard maquettes dusted with Styrofoam in a studio.) In Shirreff’s video, the mysteriously scaled sculptures appear to be both solid three-dimensional forms and fluid two-dimensional apparitions. Shirreff describes how the video served as the springboard for the Public Art Fund commissioned project Sculpture for Snow, on view for a full year in the exhibition A Promise Is a Cloud (2011–12) at MetroTech Commons. Using Smith’s sculpture Amaryllis (1965–68) as a model, Shirreff retains Smith’s signature black metal surface and larger than life scale, but collapses the sculpture’s volume and geometry into thinly drawn, weightless lines. With its pictorial and sculptural qualities intertwined, Shirreff’s Sculpture for Snow is an iteration in the artist’s ongoing exploration of the complex relationship between images and objects.

Artist Erin Shirreff, 2011. Production still from the "New York Close Up" film, "Erin Shirreff & Tony Smith Go Way Back." © Art21, Inc. 2013.

Artist Erin Shirreff, 2011. Production still from the “New York Close Up” film, “Erin Shirreff & Tony Smith Go Way Back.” © Art21, Inc. 2013.

Erin Shirreff (b. 1975, Kelowna, British Columbia, Canada) lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.

Watch the full film, Erin Shirreff & Tony Smith Go Way Back, below.

CREDITS | New York Close Up Created & Produced by: Wesley Miller & Nick Ravich. Editor: Brad Kimbrough. Additional Editing: Mary Ann Toman. Cinematography: Nicholas Lindner, Nick Ravich, Rafael Moreno Salazar, & Andrew David Watson. Sound: Scott Fernjack & Nick Ravich. Associate Producer: Ian Forster. Production Assistant: Amanda Long & Tida Tippapart. Design & Graphics: Stephanie Andreou, Crux Studio, & Open. Artwork: Erin Shirreff. Thanks: Art Fabricators, Micah Bozeman, Andria Hickey, Lisa Cooley, Mariano Brothers, Public Art Fund, Sam Rauch, Peter Versteeg. An Art21 Workshop Production. © Art21, Inc. 2013. All rights reserved.

New York Close Up is supported, in part, by the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council; Toby Devan Lewis; Lambent Foundation; the Dedalus Foundation, Inc.; and the Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc. Additional support provided by The 1896 Studios & Stages, and by individual contributors.

Contributor
Jonathan Munar is the Director of Digital Media and Strategy at Art21, overseeing the organization's overall digital, Web, and social media presences. He edits and contributes to Art21's "Art 2.1" column.

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