20 JANUARY - 27 FEBRUARY 2000
Enter SuperThrive through the darkened gallery facade and find yourself at the heart of a glowing, room-size sculpture. SuperThrive’s faceted architecture alludes to both organic and inorganic environments, from frozen walls of Arctic ice caves, to the softly illuminated interiors of medieval cathedrals, to futuristic settings that form the backgrounds of video games and science fiction films.
Stephen Hendee’s work reflects his thoughts about the dissolving boundary between nature and technology. The exhibition title,SuperThrive, is a consummate “techno-phrase” that indicates a powerful, unbounded momentum, recalling the exponential advances in computer technology and the soaring growth in the stock market at the close of the 20th century.
In contrast with this fast-paced world, Hendee employs a decidedly low-tech and laborious process to construct his sculptures. Unaided by a computer’s three-dimensional design capabilities, he decides on a general layout for a given space, then begins an arduous process of hand-cutting and assembling foam board components. Rather than follow a fully preconceived plan, he allows the structure to unfold, to grow and change. In Hendee’s words, “These spaces become an impression of dealing with them on a real-time basis, of filling geometry in a way that is not necessarily expeditious, but is certainly organic and spontaneous.” The real-time labor involved in makingSuperThrive was considerable; Hendee worked in the gallery, largely unassisted, for four weeks of fourteen hour days.
Like technology, Stephen Hendee’s environments are both seductive and ominous. Despite their radiance, they are sterile; they are disconcerting at the same time that they are alluring. Hendee sees the works as evoking “a feeling of suspended time and isolation,” not unlike the experience of being on the Internet, where, “You can be in there with a bunch of people and feel like you are alone.” Predicting a world increasingly difficult to label as “natural,” Stephen Hendee’s work questions the consequences, both positive and negative, of our increasingly intimate relationship with technology.
ABOUT THE ARTIST
Born in 1968 in Santa Monica, California, Stephen Hendee has known since the age of fifteen that he would be an artist. Determined to pursue his dream, he rented an art studio while still in high school. He received a BFA from San Francisco Art Institute in 1990, and an MFA from Stanford University in 1993. At Stanford, lacking the funds for more expensive materials, he used cardboard to fabricate small sculptures. These continued to grow in size until “the model expanded beyond the walls and people could walk inside the work.” Hendee thinks of his work as large-scale sculpture, resisting characterizing it as installation art, a category he finds to be lacking in specificity. He is influenced by diverse sources: nanotechnology, computer design, early Modernism, science fiction, and his personal experience spelunking. Hendee currently lives and works in Newark, New Jersey. SuperThrive is his largest sculpture to date.
Hendee has exhibited in numerous group exhibitions includingRestructure, 1999, Grinnell College, Grinnell, IA; Somewhen, 1999, Massachusetts College of Art, Boston, MA; Generation Z, 1999, P.S.1, Contemporary Art Center, Long Island City, NY;Seeing & Believing, 1998, Sculpture Center, New York, NY; andBay Area Now, 1997, Yerba Buena Center for the Arts, San Francisco, CA.