12 November 2023
Caleb Taylor dissects, interrupts, and
rebuilds architectural space
by Kate Mothes
Kansas City-based artist Caleb Taylor describes experiencing architecture and the built environment in terms normally associated with sound, such as “listening” to the characteristics of a room or understanding the “rhythms” of urban grids. He combines painting, sculpture, photography, and installation in galleries, building facades, and architectural interiors, building dialogue around more fully understanding the history of places and constructed sites.
The foundations of Taylor’s ongoing series, conSTRUCTS / reSTRUCTURES, began to take shape in 2017 while he was working at the Joan Mitchell Center in New Orleans. He says, “I became attuned to the disparate ideologies in the ‘Big Easy’ to those found in my hometown, Kansas City, specifically regarding the ethics of place, history of commerce, and dynamics related to urban restoration.” He continues:
I found New Orleans to be a city collaged together because of displacement and generations of independent renovations. To locate myself within this history, I researched aerial images of the city in hopes of better understanding the logic of civic choice-making and order that, from street-level, was obscured by layers of overgrowth. Google Earth helped me reduce the ornate Creole architecture to a modular, structural language that countered my observations with concrete precision.
The conSTRUCT / reSTRUCTURE works begin with forms of buildings that Taylor finds on Google Earth, which he prints and then turns into abstract, folded paper structures. He documents them in arrangements that respond to what he describes as the rhythms within city grid layouts, then “the photographs are cut into and layered to define deceptive passages of fractured geometry, associating the work with the paralleled processes of building and rebuilding,” he says.
Through the language of abstraction, drawing on examples from life, the artist re-imagines existing architecture into new combinations, obscuring the initial source material in a reflection of the ever-evolving urban landscape as city blocks and buildings rise, fall, and redevelop.
Header: Detail of conSTRUCT 18, 2018. 34.75 x 45 inches
All images © Caleb Taylor, courtesy of the artist and HAW/Contemporary