BY: MADELINE BATES
Visitors to the tasting room in the last year will have noticed the peculiar fixture that is Outflow, an expansive sculpture of foam, plaster and conduit piping created by the formerly local, contemporary artist Louisa Powell. After this weekend, the sculpture will be removed to make way for an exciting upcoming renovation in the tasting room. Saturday’s public tour (January 9, 1-4pm) will be the final opportunity to view the sculpture. Louisa, her friends and family will be present for a closing reception to celebrate the curious life of this work of art.
Installed in January 2015, Outflow was the product of four months of careful layering, carving, sanding and painting of various types of foam to create the sculpture’s main body, an intricate network of caverns and crevices. When this portion was completed and installed at the brewery, Louisa fixed upon the wall conduit piping that emerges up and out of the foam body, effectively blending the imaginative and artistic with the mundane, functional elements of the space.
Outflow is a one of Louisa’s sculptural “site interventions”, an artistic response to an architectural interior that takes shape in the creation of a site-specific structural system. Louisa’s sculpture fuses non-functional artistic elements with the existing, operative components of the space to blur divisions between form and function, or between “art” and “non-art”. In this way, Louisa poses the work of art as an integral, interactive element of the space and prompts the viewer to consider the experiential value of encountering a work of art. Represented in this blending of sculptural elements, the breakdown of the divisions that guide our typical mental processes serves as the foundation for Louisa’s work and her creative process.
“My work is very much about exploring the limitations of such cultural conventions as language. Language breaks our world into categories and parts. I am curious what might enter our awareness if we could visualize our universe as the highly connected reality that it is rather than a collection of disparate parts.” –Louisa Powell
The sculpture was installed between the tasting room entryway and the smaller bar, positioning it as one of the first elements of the space viewers encountered.
Louisa’s creative process is based on mindful surrendering, a method she finds truer to the process of life than devising a rigid scheme for a new work of art. On the development of her method, Louisa reflects: “I was looking to find my way into a much more nuanced, and gradually unfolding reality. I could only believe in the rightness of my decision-making when I allowed for exploration without predetermined goals.”
The title Outflow reflects the important influence of Louisa’s recent discovery of the work of Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, a leading proponent of positive psychology. “He has devoted his life to the study of a phenomenon that came to his attention in the 1970s called the ‘optimal experience’ or the ‘flow state,” Louisa commented. “The terms refer to a state of extreme fulfillment described by participants across diverse disciplines that can only result from their complete engagement with the task at hand." Outflow, then, can be seen as an embodiment of Louisa’s creative “flow state” responsible for the sculpture’s production. Along the same lines, Outflow represents the spirit of passion, creativity, and curiosity that Creature Comforts hopes to inspire in every visit to the tasting room.
Over the last year, Outflow has been an object of curiosity within the brewery walls that inspires questioning and discussion of the nature of art in the tasting room. Louisa’s work embodies the very nature of curiosity and the joy of creative discovery, something that Creature Comforts as a brewery is always focused on. The brewery could not be more proud to have Louisa's work as the first semi-permanent art in the Tasting Room for is first full year of operations and is thankful to have had the opportunity to house this incredible work.
About the artist:
Louisa was born outside of Washington, D.C. and spent her childhood in Chevy Chase, Maryland. She received her Bachelor’s degree in Environmental Design from the Maryland Institute College of Art in Baltimore, MD and intended to pursue architecture before shifting her interests to sculpture and moving to the South. Louisa received her Masters of Fine Arts in Sculpture from the Lamar Dodd School of Art at the University of Georgia in May 2015. Louisa has since moved back to her hometown of Washington, D.C. where she is growing a commission-based charcoal drawing business in addition to continuing with her sculptural work.
Louisa’s website: http://www.carbonrendered.com/