Eric Standley: The Lesson of Atticus (Installation Spotlight)
Jul 12, 2019 – Dec 31, 2023
The Lesson of Atticus is a captivating and mesmerizing wall relief made from a new medium for artist Eric Standley — PVC.
Standley is well known for his complex cut-paper artifacts made with vector-based software and laser cutters. Even though he uses technology to create his art, he does not use processing or algorithm-generated elements, but instead draws each line with a conscious effort toward the final composition.
The Lesson of Atticus first appeared in the exhibition Form.Print at Towson University’s Center for the Arts, and students fabricated and installed the work based on digital files sent from the artist.
Each time the work is installed, the thirty-four different layers of laser-cut PVC must be individually installed on the support system.
Standley considers the layers as “events,” in the vein of the animation process of “keyframing,” to create a consciously woven space. Because of Standley’s labor-intensive process, his works take months and sometimes years to create.
His compositions are determined by removing material from each sheet of paper (or, in the case of The Lesson of Atticus, each PVC layer), and pre-visualizing the sum of the layers as line, color, and space.
The Lesson of Atticus was based allegorically on specific elements of Harper Lee’s novel To Kill a Mocking Bird, in which the main character, Atticus Finch, is inspired by the courage and control of Mrs. Dubose, an elderly woman intent on fighting her morphine addiction before she dies.
For Standley, the thirty-four layers in The Lesson of Atticus represent negotiations of discipline and improvisation under an overriding purpose, inspired by Atticus and Mrs. Dubose denouncing external pressures as they commit to their principles. Without knowing the symbolic associations with the novel, however, we can appreciate the colors and intricate forms of The Lesson of Atticus, which recall the beautiful arabesque designs of Islamic architecture.