AMERICAN, BORN 1946
Although the two works by Alice Aycock on view at Storm King—Low Building with Dirt Roof (For Mary) and Three-Fold Manifestation II—are quite different in aesthetic and significance, both are based in part in Aycock’s interest in architectural structures and the archaeology of the ancient Mediterranean. Low Building with Dirt Roof (For Mary) was first created in 1973—a time when many artists were working with the earth as an artistic medium—at Gibney Farm, Pennsylvania, land owned by Aycock’s family. There, its roof was intended to be planted with whatever crop was growing in the fields surrounding it. Aycock has associated Low Building with both a farmhouse and a small cemetery on her family’s property. Mary, of the work’s title and dedication, was a child in Aycock’s family who died prematurely. Aycock also has said that she was inspired by “frontier homes, the tunnels and tombs of Mycenae, the myth of Clytemnestra and Agamemnon, dreams, the memory of my grandparents’ attic,” and finally adds, “I also have a shelter concept—a sort of physiological need for a ‘first house’.” The work was re-created at Storm King in 2010.
Aycock’s fantastical and complex Three-Fold Manifestation II arrived at Storm King in 1987, in advance of a retrospective exhibition of her work. Its form is reminiscent of Roman amphitheaters, one atop the other, and alludes to wide-ranging sources including archeology, science, and astrology. Aycock has noted that her initial inspiration originated with Walter Gropius’s unexecuted designs for three theaters. As Aycock has stated of the work, “I was working a lot with these stepped bowl-like forms; I would take astronomical diagrams and imagine the space that would be generated by these diagrams. These bowls or whirling, skewed spaces are tipped, so it’s as though you’re looking into disoriented worlds…. During the Medieval period and the Renaissance they illustrated people walking off to paradise through a whirling hole in the world, a tumbling structure.”