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Clues to the Riddle of Human Experience: Christine Bourdette
by Lois Allan


Going through the sculptures and drawings in Christine Bourdette’s recent mid-career retrospective at The Art Gym on the Marylhurst University campus was like parsing a compendium of artifacts relating to human experience. Almost every one of the 50 sculptures attested to some aspect of the human body, or its presence. There were full figures, parts of figures, tools (of obscure function), animals, edibles and wearables, and abstract forms of mysterious reference but ample association. As always, Bourdette’s superbly crafted sculptures, from the representational to the fully abstract, were charged with ambiguity, mystery, and psychological depth.

Among the formal attributes that make these works so aesthetically satisfying are Bourdette’s use of scale, volumetric form, and neutral, natural colors. Her practice of grouping sculptures adds another layer of formal and conceptual complexity. Whether to convey a sense of community through interrelationships or simply to bring about a formal coherence, the arrangements create layered, psychologically provocative content.

Waiting in the Wings, 2001.
Steel, cheesecloth, string, wax, and leather, 14 in. diameter.


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