The Afflicted: Michael Gessner, 60, a Brightwood sculptor who’s exhibited at Gallery K and Brooklyn’s Concepto Gallery.
Diagnosis: Claustrophobia. “Sculpture is all about space,” says Gessner, whose work, constructed from organic materials, ranges from small-scale wood pieces to sprawling installations. “I have a small house, so I don’t have much room to work on bigger pieces,” he says. “It’s really limited the scale of my work.”
Symptoms: Loss of Lebensraum. Gessner’s work tends to take over his living space. “My ceiling is about 9 feet, so that’s a real barrier,” he says. When a sculpture outgrows his basement studio, he moves it to his living room; when it outgrows the living room, he moves it to the backyard. “Sculpture is really messy,” says Gessner. “Sometimes my house can look like a hamster cage.” No matter where Gessner sculpts, though, his pieces need to pass one more space test: fitting inside his station wagon.
Treatment: Deconstruct the situation. “I make things that come apart,” says Gessner, who measures the components of his sculptures to ensure they’ll fit in his car. Gessner keeps an eye on density as well as surface area: He opts for lightweight paulownia wood to ease transportation. “I don’t make anything that I can’t carry myself,” he says. “If you make a big, heavy piece, you own it. Where are you going to put it? How are you going to move it around?” In the future, Gessner hopes to become even more mobile. “My dream would be able to carry around one suitcase, open it up, and be able to assemble a whole show on the spot,” he says.
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