The Drawers - Gord Smith   Commentary written by Julie Oakes

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Inde-Picks (Independent Curator's Selection)

The cross is probably the most loaded symbol in the Western world. It is the simple intersection of the horizontal and the vertical, the horizontal (horizon) associated with earthly existence and the vertical being the connection between earth and heaven.

Geometrically, two lines crossing turn the first dimension into the second dimension. Gord Smith's sculptural treatment of this dimensional change ranges from traditional to modern and yet never entirely sheds the religious signification. Even when textured and crusty or luminously polished, they can't be just shapes for they are crosses. Although each one is entirely new, in this nascent creation there resides age-old meaning.

The structure that the fifteen crosses are housed in is an altar: it cannot be read otherwise, but it is a very different altar from the traditional. The triangular mirror at the top reveals that the sequence, with one cross at the front apex of the triangular platform and five in the back row, also forms a perfect triangle. The mirror allows the viewer to look directly down upon the crosses - this is a godlike perspective. It shrinks the significance of the classic proportion of the Roman cross where the horizontal cross bar is placed closer to the top than to the bottom, thus creating the illusion of greater height for in Gord Smith's Amen, from the bird's eye mirrored reflection, there is the opposite illusion - that this symbol can be dwarfed if granted an omnipotent perspective.

Historically, especially within the Christian tradition, the cross embodies spiritual and philosophical ideologies. It is the icon of icons. Under this symbol, wars have been fought, lives have been lost and buried, couples have been wed, new-borns blessed and crimes confessed. There are war crosses and peace crosses in Gord Smith's Amen. These are not 'good' and 'bad' signifiers but a far more profound naming that reflects the dynamic interplay of opposites within each man.

Amen is a piece that exemplifies the grand creation of an artist who needed to make a masterpiece and was gutsy enough to tackle the Cross - not just once but fifteen times! Then he cast the crosses in bronze so that they are able to endure the passage of time and placed them within a framework that enables common man to access multiple divine concepts.

Copyright 2006,  Julie Oakes