I Like Ike, 2007
silver, copper, bronze, wax, wood, and aluminum
approx. 36" x 36" x 40" h
by Deborah Spivak
Alec Appl has the silver touch. In his studio, the mundane transforms into the precious, as he meticulously casts various organic and man-made objects. He notices the often overlooked small objects lying on the ground, discarded items that have no purpose in the landscape of everyday life. The Chicago native constructs new environments for these objects, establishing a scale that complements the finished silver pieces. Often he cultivates plants or moss within these environments, building a dichotomy between nature and industry. In Mt. Solar, Appl combines these two elements in an ironic framework. On a concrete base, moss grows quietly as a desk lamp powers a solar panel. Silver pieces stand vigil over the setting, providing an unknown protagonist within the scene.
The intricacy of these pieces slows down time, asking the viewer to closely investigate the work. Entering into the space of these works, the viewer loses the sense of his or own world. The small scale of the works asks the viewer to place him or herself within these environments and to become intimately involved with the quiet interaction of the animate and inanimate. The dichotomy does not create tension, but rather evokes harmony between disparate elements. These works have a psychological effect on the viewer who takes the role of an observant, inactive force in this new ecosystem, where metals and mosses act out scenes.
Appl's works have a quiet simplicity and universality in their geometric shapes and pure colors. Although Appl considers the mathematic elements of nature, he approaches the physical qualities of his silver pieces from an intuitive standpoint. Many of his works draw upon the minimalism of naturally occurring geometric shapes, often including the circle, whose perfection is found universally. The aesthetic of Appl's current works does not challenge the viewer, but gives him or her a private, wordless environment of interacting textures, materials, and shapes.
Appl's sculptures suggest a much slower concept of time, where change is undetectable yet actually occurring before our eyes. He incorporates living plants into his sculptural installations, here arranged on a forest of columns. The stillness and quiet of growth, coupled with a concrete bowl containing sand mounded into concentric circles, makes for a meditative environment that tackles time on more of a geologic scale.
Appl first became interested in metals at the University of Arizona, where his sculpture focus led him to bronze casting. Since his graduation in 2000, Appl has been experimenting with techniques of fabrication, casting, and the alchemic process of alloying. Appl picked up much of the technical precision and skill necessary for fine metalworking during his tenure as a jewelry maker prior to his entry in the MFA program. This skill is evident in Appl's transformation of minor objects of everyday life into miniature monuments.