A board with rusty nails, a rusted can of soda, a derelict rusted automobile, an old rusted metal shack. It is not the board, the soda, the automobile, or the shack that are the features, but it is the iron oxide known as rust, that is the subject. The artist is Nancy Vorm and her current body of work at Finch Lane Gallery “is the result of an obsession of rusting paper that I began in 2010,” reads her artist’s statement. But “why rust?” is the question we ask ourselves, when rust is so foreign to any associations with such ideals of beauty, humanism, truth, found in art.
But in fact, in form alone, wall grids, circles within squares, canvases, each have striking and complex compositional detailing. The artist uses a combination of paper, rust and beeswax, and this can be applied to sturdy surfaces or left as paper. A construct such as “Hoosier 9-patch,” 10 1/2 x 10 1/2, 77 pieces, each with its own language of pattern, is technically extraordinary. But we are addressing surfaces only here.
The philosophical context cannot be ignored as the reality of transience; the temporality found in the manifestation and development of rust, to eventual decay, and so many other questions of essential change, are ripe in this symbol for fascinating consideration. The hanging sculpture “Dangling Permutations,” 80in, makes this philosophy accessible. Each individual fragment is presented in numerous hanging linear strands. Each fragment may suggest to the viewer passages of time; the fragment beneath comes before, the fragment on top will inevitably proceed. Nothing is permanent in life. Rust serves as an ideal model for newness, decay, and passing; all are inevitable.