May, 2005, pp 72,73
by Jody Zellen
The paintings in Eve Wood's solo exhibition at Western Project are rendered in a deliberately naive style. The loosely drawn and painted images depict nature, humans and animals as metaphors for the violence as well as the frailty within the world. In contrast to the loose style of the paintings, Wood has also created a number of floor sculptures out of found stones. The sculptures are precise assemblages of rock, thread, and found objects including handcuffs, spurs and taxidermy animals. The juxtaposition of these two different styles of work also suggests the relationship between the hard and the soft, the tight and the loose, and that the human hand and nature is something beyond our control.
The first work encountered when entering the gallery is a small, shelf sculpture made from children's toys. Entitled, American Heroes (2005), it fuses plastic bugs with plastic guns. Rather than point the guns at an enemy, the bugs - surrogate soldiers, as they happen to be the military color of green - have the guns pointed at themselves. The themes of suicide and violence are further explored in a number of Wood's paintings. While seeming innocent and whimsical - bright colors, light gestures - the paintings speak directly to the potential for ill to occur. For example in, Hopeless Magnolia (2004), two trees face off - each holds a handgun in one of its branches, as one fires into the other, the other fires into itself. The empty bullets fall like raindrops to the ground amongst the red berries from the tree. A similar action occurs in Point and Shoot , as a gun hangs helplessly entangled between two trees. Trees as well as animals (horses, lions and birds) are the subject of Wood's other paintings.
The animals are rendered with a childlike hand, with enough detail to discern their features and their environment. In, Horse Holding Back Fire , the scared horse hovers near a tree as the ensuing flames encroach. In, Mysterious Horse Death #9 , blood from an unknown source drips from the nose of the melancholy creature. In Wood's paintings trees have guns, horses are trapped, lions are offered dead rabbits, and birds fly through nooses. In an ge of lost innocence and unnecessary wars, even nature is affected. Wood's works speak to the reality of everyday life using imagery not usually associated with such conflicts.
In direct contrast to the whimsical nature of the paintings, the sculpture placed on a wooden plank on the floor in the center of the gallery appear to be solid and stoic. Made from stone or quartz, these human head sized objects have been drilled, sawed and sewn. Wood has drilled holes into each piece of stone - obviously a labor-intensive and seemingly futile task. She has painstakingly altered the surface of the material by weaving thread through the holes, mending or tying parts of the stone together. In one case the thread is used with vertebrae to make the altered stone resemble a guitar. In others like Suture , the red thread becomes a remedy, while in Subterfuge in the Known World , the red and white thread loops through evenly spaced holes around the perimeter of the flat stone.
While many of Wood's alterations to the stone can be seen as humorous - witness Cowboy Junkies, How Much I Love You - the works where she juxtaposes the stone with taxidermy animals takes on a more serious tone. In Clarisse , a quail is positioned upside-down in a large hole drilled into a stone. A deer's foot is used as a support for the rock in Hanging Bridge , and as a stand-in for a person in Kneel and Pray.
While there are clear references to human forms and human activities, in both her painted and sculpted works Wood uses animals to carry the message of doom. But these apparently pessimistic pieces are not without hope. The animals convey an innocence and an awareness of their situations that suggests they may elude their destiny. Perhaps that is Wood's message to us all: that by transforming something solid - tree, horse, lion or stone - we can see the possibilities and turn the guns away from ourselves.