Just like the story of her career, Cal Lane‘s jaw-slackening work plays with a number of polarities. To date, her pieces stand alone in capturing a delicacy and intricacy quite apart from her closest contemporaries. Indeed, unlike fellow iron sculptor Richard Serra, Lane’s tapestries, welded into harsh and often preternaturally large steel and iron structures, are sensual, alluring and deeply effeminate. Having spent much of her early life as a hairdresser in her mother’s salon in Vancouver Island, Lane soon became interested in exploring gender roles and conceptual art. This year she plans to continue to push her style to new extremes, and will transform an entire shipping container into a house-like cage.
When did you first discover steel, welding and blow-torch art? You were a hairdresser before becoming a full-time artist, I believe.
I am a certified welder – I went through trade school before art school mainly for practical reasons. I felt welding was a job where I could work with my hands. My work began as an investigation of gender stereotypes. Being a tomboy, growing up in a hair salon and the ridiculous social customs that come with the world of being a girl to the equally ridiculous world of men and trying to fit into the social world of being a welder.
How do you go about sourcing the materials for projects? Surely it’s problematic on a number of levels.
Locating materials is always an interesting part of the process, finding particular oil tanks, dumpsters, and cars generally add to the narrative of the finished piece. It’s what draws me to working with old, used, discarded objects. They come with their own narrative, a narrative that on some level we can all connect to.
What kind of projects were you working on this year – any highlights? Low points?
Recently, I worked on the work for the show in New York that opened in November at Benrimon Contemporary. In the show was a 20 foot long, six diameter steel corrugated pipe that I cut in half to make a 40 foot long half arch. Then the arch was carved into medieval, fantasy like creatures in an apocalyptic setting.
What will you be working on in the new year? Any ideas that you’re throwing around at the moment?
This year I am creating a large piece for the Sydney Biennale in Australia where I am doing sand sifting on a floor in a warehouse. I also purchased a 40-foot oil truck tanker, which I have yet to figure out what to do with.
Words: Jack Mills