Andy Goldsworthy functions as an artist in a continuum of what I would call shamanistic principles: permeability, density, liminality, derivation, change, and transformation. That is, he manipulates and transforms the materials of the environment in some dynamic sympathy with them. This sympathetic approach is one that makes him keenly aware of his communication with and orientation toward the world. Because of this the work is in a very real sense suggested by the environment, the work’s parameters of possibility defined by the environment, and the artist’s intuitive making directed by the environment. There is very little “manhandling” going on here, very little ham-fisted, blundering action. His art is not an image of mankind dominating or playing flippantly with the world, but rather one of the sensitive investigator being moved forward by suggestions from within the investigated schema. His message is his articulation to the environment, not in some sort of neo-pagan hippy vagary, but in action, physical touch, biological aesthetics (i.e. basic 2D design and shape dynamics, which extends beyond the 2D into the 3D via his spatial and sensation-based investigations). The message isn’t linear like literacy or mathematics. It’s kinesthetic and alchemical. Zero irony, total being-ness. Awesome.
The sketches I post here are ones I made during a visit I and my cousin Chris (a photographer) made to the Storm King Art Center in New York State to see Goldsworthy’s Storm King Wall. The trip was inspirational; I highly recommend making a stop at SKAC if you’re in the area.
Update (December 17, 2009): There’s a great piece on the ART21 Blog about Storm King that discusses the history of the place, how they think about acquiring/installing new work, and other interesting tidbits. Check it out.