Friday, March 26, 2010

Pamela Lawton’s Liquid City

From "The Statement," a monthly e-zine for the professional designer:

Great art shows us beauty that is often overlooked. It teaches us to see our everyday world with new eyes. Pamela Lawton has done just that, showing us a view of the city we may not have noticed; the endless reflections of one glass building onto another. “Liquid City”, a series of paintings that captures this phenomenon, is fluid, undulating, colorful and alive. The work is both emotional and musical, as the colors seem to waver with emotion. “Most tourists experience the city from the street level. They're interested in street events," says Lawton. "Instead, I'm looking high up at a beautiful skyscraper that's kind of timeless because it's capturing light, it's capturing rhythms and nature.”

In the late 1990s the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council had a program that allowed artists to use the unoccupied 10% of the World Trade Center as studio space. It was here that Lawton occupied different studios that looked out onto the adjacent buildings. She noticed that the reflections of the other towers in their glass facades appeared to move and change throughout the day. Lawton explains, "I noticed the architecture, kind of '70s architecture, tends to have distorted glass. I was also experiencing the kind of vertical vertigo that you get when you're in the World Trade Center You know, that kind of 'woosh' of the elevator and the swaying of the building. So I wanted to include that in my work as well."

So many artists and poets have spoken to the play of light and reflection on the surface of water that it seems remarkable that no one until Lawton had paid homage to this occurrence in glass. After all, the glass curtain wall is one of the most defining elements of the modern urban landscape. Liquid City is not only intriguing to look at, it is aptly named, as glass is a cooled liquid. Sand and lime are heated until they are molten, and when this fiery liquid cools it forms into glass. The Ancient Egyptian word for glass was iner en wedeh, which translates as “stone of the kind that flows.” On a molecular level, glass is amorphous like a liquid, and not crystalline like other solid materials.

Liquid City makes us love the concrete jungle in a whole new way.

You can view Pamela's work at

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