Article by Cornelia Feye
May 7, 2023
Anne Mudge, Wire & Beads, Quint Gallery, April 15-May 27
Entering Quint Gallery in La Jolla, an intricate organic-looking shape with red beads floats at eye-level, seemingly blocking the way. The glittering sculpture is entitled Hub, and it consists of stainless steel, pigment, red beads looking like berries, and tendrils reaching out into space. It is not alone. Twenty other sparkling, moving, turning sculptures populate the space at various heights and levels. Anne Mudge, the lively artist with a gray bob and a dog named Bean, weaves between them and points up at one small wire structure shaped like a seed pod, hanging high on the ceiling, “This was a study for the Trolley station commission in 2005.” The large-scale version of Mudge’s Taproot series can be seen at the SDSU trolley stop.
At Quint, Mudge’s sculptures range in time from 1992 to 2023. The swaying structures create the notion of moving through an aquarium amidst exotic looking jellyfish and creatures of the sea. Or is it a magical botanical garden, where fruiting plants hanging from trees in various stages of their life cycle? Or maybe they depict interconnected brain synapses forming multiple links. Anne Mudge welcomes these associations, but her pieces can also be seen simply as abstract wire structures in a fragile state of equilibrium. The floor is empty, except for the moving shadows, mirroring different angles and reflections of the suspended sculptures.
Looking closer, it becomes apparent that the complex pieces have been constructed with cable wire, carefully unraveled and re-arranged in a delicate web of possible connections. Expertly lit, they look airy, light and playful at first, but turn out to be the result of an elaborate process taking from one to three months per sculpture to create. At her studio on a compound in Fallbrook, CA, Anne Mudge tames the tension and compression of silver wire to create balanced mobiles, seemingly defying gravity. Suspended from a single point, the sculptures interact with the environment: the air flow makes them turn, the light reflects off the silver wire and the beads casting dancing shadows.
The glittering objects in space hint at larger ideas: the interconnectedness of all plants and trees through a network of underground mycorrhizal fungi exchanging information and nutrients; or the life cycle of plants, going through the stages after their bloom, when they create fruit that contains the seed for the next generation—after all Anne Mudge lived on a seed farm for many years. The fragile balance in nature, and in these objects, is hard won, and easily disrupted. An extra wire, washer or lead weight from a fishing pole, can tip the entire structure on its side.
Mudge does not imitate nature, but she is inspired by the symmetry and design of many natural forms based on the Fibonacci Sequence and wants to reveal their underlying design. “From the simplest of forms, through repetition and variation, shapes begin to insist on themselves and create a kind of architecture,” she says. In other words, the skeletal shapes she creates possess inevitability, given by the need of balance, tension and beauty. Anne Mudge – Wire & Beads will be on view through May 27, 2023 at Quint Gallery in La Jolla, CA.