(Photos by JIbanez)
When you first enter the Alexander Hanson installation at the Santa Fe College Gallery, you are met by a bench packed with construction tools and materials under the show’s sign ‘Don’t let me screw this up’. It is a play of words with the nature of the installation that is about to surprise you.
Going around the sign and bench wall you run into what at first looks like a jumble of 2 x 3 x 6 pine slabs 8 or 10 feet high screwed together in all directions. The gallery is darkened except for the light of construction lights in the usual thick yellow extension cords. Then you notice near the back of the gallery, beyond the apparent pile of slabs, the backside of a small cabin or shack built with the same kind of light-colored wood.
Then everything starts falling into place. The wall-to-wall slabs construction becomes an ‘abstracted’ forest and you walk into it following the path marked by the ‘canopy’ of the forest that takes you to the other side of the ‘cabin’.
Once there you discover that it is a three walls cabin, opening to the back wall of the gallery. It is a living room. One step up from the floor, a wooden platform. There is a sofa against the back wall of the cabin (the one you first saw as you entered the gallery), a small coffee table in the center and many children coloring book pages, some of them half done, strewn around.
As you come back around, moving toward the gallery front door, you appreciate that the ‘jumble’ is not such. It is gracefully and carefully weaved with these slender slabs and the light color of the wood as well as that of the ‘cabin’ gives the whole assemble a fresh look that the extension cords accentuate.
In his artist statement near the front door, Hanson explains how the project was conceived as he was trying to process the flood of emotions and apprehension that hit him when he found out that summer that he was about to have a kid. The ‘under construction’ feel of the installation projects a sense of hope and future that in my opinion speaks very successfully to Hanson’s stated purpose.
Alexander Hanson, ‘Don’t Let Me Screw This Up’, Installation at the Santa Fe College Gallery, runs through March 15, 2024.