In what is said to be his most expansive collection ever, local artist and MacArthur genius grant recipient Tom Joyce explores both iron and the materials he’s used to shape it in “Tom Joyce: Everything at Hand,” showing at the Center for Contemporary Arts until the end of 2017.
Joyce continues his working relationship with iron as a historically relevant and symbolic material, both through thousands of pounds of sculptures, as well as “iron-inspired” multimedia pieces.
The work includes lithographs made from scanning his cast-iron art, videos of his process and a wall piece that has branded iron on a wooden surface.
In a new artistic venture that resembles his appreciation for iron, Joyce created 3-D prints of old tools – ones headed for extinction because of evolving technology – and used them in both sculptures and hanging displays to represent and honor the importance they once held.
CCA executive director Stuart Ashman said this exploration shows that Joyce, beyond his well-known sculpture work, is “hip” to contemporary installations. At the end of the exhibit is an “inverted studio,” which includes large tools taken from his Santa Fe studio hanging upside down from the ceiling.
During a walk-through tour of the exhibit Wednesday, Joyce said the majority of the show was created in two iron and steel facilities: a casting facility in Wisconsin and a forging facility near Chicago.
It was at the Wisconsin facility where he first experimented with casting iron. He has been forging iron for 45 years, ever since he was a 14-year-old learning to be a blacksmith in El Rito.
He said he wanted to test how far he could push the liquid iron within its casting molds, which is the opposite of what the iron workers he worked alongside were looking for. Instead of perfect castings, he wanted the “memory of something alive.”
“I wanted there to be something inherent in the way iron is moving like water … . I wanted it to feel like it was trying to get out of the mold,” Joyce said. “It was hot enough to break down the sand mold and the iron starts moving, which is something that occurs at the center of the Earth. This molten magma between our thin skin of Earth that we stand on wants to get out.”
“The depth to which he explores the material is really amazing,” said Ashman.
The show runs through Dec. 31. It’s $5 for non-members and free for CCA members from 12-5 p.m. Thursdays through Sundays.