Wendy Letven is a multidisciplinary artist working in sculpture, installation and painting in the New York area. Recently she created site-specific installations in New York for Art on Paper Fair, the Flatiron Prow Artspace, and The Sheila R. Johnson Gallery at the New School. Wendy is a MacDowell Colony Fellow and a recipient of a Workspace Grant from Diee Donne Papermill in New York. Raised in Phildelphia PA, Ms. Letven received a BFA from Tyler School of Art in Elkins Park, PA and an MFA from Hunter College in New York. At Hunter she studied with conceptual artists Robert Morris and Joan Jonas and painters Robert Swain and Vinnie Longo. Ms. Letven teaches Art and Design courses at Parsons School of Design in New York and at New York University.
In my work I explore the limitations of human perception, and my own perception, as a means of uncovering hidden truths. I study the suggestive nature of forms, observed, felt and imagined. I look to patterns as symbols to trigger our sensory experience of space, growth and decay through the abstract memory, as a means of getting around that limited perception. I then provide an open-ended decoding experience for the viewer engaging with the work. In both painting and sculptural forms my process starts with drawing and sketching from automatic drawing, observation, memory, and from the imagination. I draw expressively with a pencil, with a knife in cutting paper and digitally, where precision is key. I’m inspired to consider the diversity and variety but similarities of physical phenomenon, from the organic to the geometric to the human-made. I have referenced bee hives, electric circuits, sound wave patterns and the branching patterns of veins in the human body versus rivers and roots together in a single work. I coax lines to suggest familiar forms and subvert them again, to arrive at a vocabulary of evocative abstractions that form the syntax of a personal, yet universal language. In sculptural forms I translate drawings onto planar materials, such as aluminum and paper, and cut them through laser and hand-cutting. I sculpt, fold, bend, hammer, attach and layer materials to form volumetric structures, modeling universal ideas, such as gravity, conflict, decay, motion and other things. For example, in my installation “Random Misfirings of the Brain”, shapes were integrated into a large armature of painted branches suggesting growth and our growing collective consciousness. On a personal level it references my impression of childhood trips to the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, where one enters into a room-sized interactive heart exhibit. This might hae been my first experience with an immersive exhibit and it was formative. The red, orange and blue colors of the installation were inspired by anatomical diagrams. Diagrams of all sorts are of intrest to me. I think of my installation work as drawings suspended in physical space. In paintings I explore space in a similar but different manner, through repeated overlapping lines suggesting the warp and weft pattern of the space-time continuum. I string panels of paintings together, suggesting phases in time in other-wordly landscapes. Patterning, time, space, diversity are major themes. While many of these things, particularly pattern, is often disregraded as being decorative, and by extension, frivolous, or “designed”, however, for me, questions about nature and design are anything but “frivolous”. While one definition of design includes the word “decoration”, another includes the following phrase... “purpose, planning, or intention that exists or is thought to exist behind an action, fact, or material object”.
From a Spring 2018 BROOKLYN RAIL REVIEW...
"... it's Letven who comes closest to charting a viable new path for abstraction. Light and heavy, flat and full all at once, her work uses color not just to imitate space but to play with the very idea of it, to marvelous effect.
But it was her laser-precise paper cut-outs which left me thinking hardest. By consciously juxtaposing patterns drawn from technology and nature against each other in a highly stylized manner, all while employing high-tech implements, Letven seems to be interrogating humanity’s relationship to the world from which it sprang, discovering forms which blur the distinction we tend to make between ourselves and our ecology. " –John Micheal Colon
More information about specific bodies of work can be found in each sub category on this site.