Erica van Zon and her literary objects

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 In The Light on The Dock I wanted there to be push and pull between recognisable objects and abstraction. Each piece is representative of objects in a story, a character, or the idea of narrative in general. Through association I have made a few pieces from my own history. Each object is created in its own right and then arranged within the exhibition space, creating even more readings through formal relationships with other works. Here I will unpack a few of the pieces that need a little more explanation....

Erica van Zon's The Light on The Dock
Photo: Caroline Atkinson

Zoo Fever is a character from Truman Capote’s Other Voices, Other Rooms. Zoo has exaggerated features, high energy and a nurturing presence. I recall she was wearing a polka dot scarf to cover a bad scar on her neck. Her eyes were described as being like black porcelain discs. I wanted this work to be modest with materials, sit very flat and be visually interruptive with clash of colour and materials.

Erica van Zon's The Light on The Dock
Photo: Caroline Atkinson

Lily, from Joan Didion’s Run, River, is where I have taken a more literal response to describing a character. Lily is a delicate but resourceful character. She is making pear marmalade the day her father dies and later vomits in her bathroom on some pink tiles, as she is pregnant with an illegitimate child. I intentionally made this work ‘feminine’.


Erica van Zon's The Light on The Dock
Photo: Caroline Atkinson

Goldenrod/The Wash rug is one of the most abstracted works in the show. I have made a lot of rugs in the past and wanted to continue this arm in my practice for the show. The design is based on the goldenrod weed in Other Voices, Other Rooms, a surprisingly beautiful and bright plant found on the side of railroads and in wastelands. I see the metaphor of weeds in relationship to the people in the book. They are all mismatched, but living in the same environment, all unwanted in some way, but growing and changing, or just existing without being tamed, or stopped. The background pattern is taken from a cracked desert floor. I wanted the clash between different parts
of the states to exist in this piece.
 
Erica van Zon's The Light on The Dock
Photo: Hamish McLaren

Rope Coil
All three of the books have links to the past and flip backwards and forwards in time. As readers, when in our lives do we encounter this literature? When on the coil do we encounter this particular sequence of events? After asking these questions I was thinking about how to describe this visually. The coil itself is made from extra large piping cord then sewn together; I wanted more of a cartoon of rope rather than real rope to represent this idea.


Erica van Zon's The Light on The Dock

Erica van Zon's The Light on The Dock

Erica van Zon's The Light on The Dock
Photos (1) and (2) and (3): Hamish McLaren

The Door and The Wash tapestries
I was trying to find the middle ground between the rug and the more recognisable objects, as well as tackling the visual representation of reading. It got me thinking about Maria's (the main character in Didion’s Play It As It Lays) home environment, and an item that may be present there. The door is also a metaphor I wanted to use in reference to the texts. Making this got me thinking; does every novel feature something/someone changing? Does every character in every book cross a threshold? This work was using colours that suggest the era that Maria was in LA, as well as being inspired by American abstract artist Josef Albers, and the way that he created spatial depth on the page.

In Play It As It Lays Maria keeps on looking at the changing light on the wash, a part of the desert behind a hotel she is staying at. It feels like a focus point for her. Again I was faced with trying to represent something symbolically important—light—but hard to describe formally. There are two pieces, one with the sun present, the other with just the light remaining.


Erica van Zon's The Light on The Dock
Photo: Caroline Atkinson

Everett
This piece is about a man (from Didion’s Run, River) who is losing touch with his family. They are all changing and doing reckless things around him. He cares immensely but struggles to show this properly. He eats a sad baloney sandwich and a beer at a lonely food bar in town, rather than trying to connect with anyone, or face any big issues, he sits alone. I wanted to show the containment of the sandwich with delineated, permeable sides.


Erica van Zon's The Light on The Dock
Photo: Hamish McLaren

Ryder
Ryder (Run, River) seems to ruin everything. He's been a round a while and can never get his property development schemes off the ground. Later we encounter him in a sorry state in an empty house surround with celery sticks and processed cheese packaging. The pegboard and atomic structure pin him in an era of hopefulness tinged with toxicity. This work came to me before I went to sleep, I wanted to have a shonky-ish handmade version of a recognisable structure along with a material and colours that speak to the era. The bow tie also had this appeal, adding a sense of showmanship and masculinity.


Erica van Zon's The Light on The Dock
Photo: Hamish McLaren

Working on the low plinth has provided the format for these pieces to be read on the same plane, even though the connections, origins, materials and processes are quite scattered. In this almost intuitive way of working I have begun to uncover for myself yet more layers of thinking about reading, making, craft, interpretation, signature, abstraction, relationships, distance, narrative.....now comes the big question, what to make next?

Erica van Zon, Artist.