I once participated in a group show called Hands On, in which the art on display was meant to be touched. I had always shown framed drawings under glass, and I wanted to maintain that dynamic of paper and glass, both of which appeal to my tactile nautre. So I arrived at the idea of making small drawings – anywhere from 1×2 inches to 4×6 inches – and rolling them up inside test tubes. I filled a vase with them, and if someone wanted to see the art, they first had to select a test tube, slide the paper out of the thin, elegant glass, and then unroll the small scroll of artwork. It was a pleasure to interact with people over these pieces, to offer them a unique, and indeed hands on, art experience.
The show, in 2009, was with the now defunkt Chicago art collective Deadline Projects. Handling the test tubes, some of which measured only an inch long, was challenging for some. Others, not so much.
Some of the tubes contained portraits or random bits of spontaneous writing, while others held drawings similar to those you’ll find in the galleries on this site. Still others contained little oddities, one-offs that were often interesting visual experiments. These small objects provided easy access points for conversation with total strangers at the show, and I feel as a whole, the test tube drawings illustrated my overall sense of playfulness, which is not always evident in my work.
How many test tubes were broken at the evening-long show? Only three. Which was actually a huge fucking surprise to some of my comrades in arms. Or in arts. Nearly all 70 of the test tubes were sold.
Over time I’ll post some of the individual drawings for your viewing pleasure. Or displeasure. Who knows. I make no assumptions.
Here are some of the 50 new test tube drawings I made for Pitchspork (June/July of 2015). Many of them have text on them, and struck me more as little glass fortune cookies. Images of some of the original group of test tube drawings are below these.
The following are a few of the seventy or so drawings people took home inside their test tubes from the 2009 Hands On show mentioned above. Most of the drawings are on three by five inch pieces of paper, though some were considerably smaller and nestled inside test tubes about an inch and a half long, held in place with tiny corks.
home, James! or to galleries, or up, up!