Function junction

Staff Writer
Columbus Alive

When Yvette van der Velde was remodeling her house, she plundered its discarded material for treasure. She wasn't searching for antique fixtures or lost jewelry, but for scraps of wood, rusted screws and nails, torn bits of fabric and old wallpaper. The material value wasn't the point - it was the aesthetic, historic and narrative value that the items could bring to her multimedia assemblages.

Several of the resulting constructions make up half of the Function to Form exhibit at the Ohio Art League this month.

"We wanted to do a show about how two different artists go about using found objects in their work," said Tom Kelly, whose multimedia pieces make up the other half of the show. "Her work is more autobiographical, mine is more abstract."

While van der Velde makes her work out of the stuff under the floors and inside of the walls, Kelly finds most of his materials in urban detritus. He scouts items that have been chucked to the curb or abandoned near wire fences in the city. Their pieces complement each other, exhibited side-by-side instead of on separate walls.

Van der Velde began making sculptural assemblages when she was a CCAD student. Her major was photography, but after graduating in 2002, she found that the multimedia work was a more affordable, sustainable form of art-making.

"It was kind of a different way, or a different reason for making art, and I really enjoyed doing it," said van der Velde. As she tore things up in her house a couple of years ago, she found that "there was so much to be discovered ... I found myself wondering about the history of the people who have lived there before."

Her pieces have a gentle, yellowed and nostalgic quality. They impart a broad sense of narrative, leaving the details up to the viewer. They are composed of cords and strings, faint blueprints, Plexiglas and wires.

"A couple of them do have more of a specific story, but generally nothing that I would want to share publicly," said van der Velde. "I think the way I've put them together, it's visually appealing and sort of transcends the need to know exactly what I was thinking."

She shares that broadly, a few of the pieces in the show have to do with her desire to move out of her Plain City house, and back into a more urban lifestyle.

Kelly began painting and drawing as a child, but took detours through more formal career paths before making art to show publicly five years ago. He's since exhibited locally and regionally, including a recent exhibit at the South Ohio Museum.

Several of Kelly's pieces in Function to Form were composed as he read The Man Who Knew Infinity: A Life of the Genius Ramanujan, about a "self-made, self-actualized" mathematical prodigy.

The Rigour of Proof has metal pieces integrated into it that seem to mimic mathematical diagrams, and faint evidence of text and vectors hazily visible beneath a thin layer of paint, but that's probably the most literal of his pieces, which also leave most of the interpretation up to the viewer.

For a couple of the show's prominent works, Kelly collected artificial flowers from friends and incorporated them into his canvas, painting them all one color. His black Gometra is one of the show's highlights, named for the house where Ramanujan poured out his last body of work before dying of tuberculosis.

"Most of the work I do is somewhat influenced by what I'm reading at the time - history, mythology, books that are referential," said Kelly, adding, "Or stories my friends tell me ... or funny lyrics in songs."

What: "Function to Form"

When: Through Jan. 31

Where: Ohio Art League, Short North