It wasn't a big surprise to Sophia Dixon Dillo that a few technical problems cropped up during the installation of her Light and Line show at Ice Cube Gallery this morning; when you're working with some 25 miles of fishing line, there are bound to be a few snags, so to speak. The line, which is strung at 1/8-inch intervals to create sweeping, reflective planes of light, needed to be painstakingly hooked to repurposed conveyor belt teeth mounted to different sections of the wall, supports and baseboards, and one particular mount was too close to the wall to accommodate hooking the line. This problem necessitated several adjustments that took up most of the morning. "Every time I try a new way of attaching it," Dillo mused while fiddling with a power drill, "it's a, uh, learning experience."
Before long, though, the mount was fixed, and the installation of a new section of line -- the second section -- was ready to begin. Dillo and Brody, a gallery intern, took their positions at either mount, while Katherine, another intern, made short trips between them with a reel of 4-lb. test monofilament line attached to the end of a broomstick, unspooling it as she went. Hook, unspool, hook. Hook, unspool, hook. Aside from Katherine's intermittent pauses to mess with a tangle of line, the three fell into a gentle, almost zen-like rhythm. And it was harder than it looked: Dillo invited me to try it at one point, and my stiff, meaty fingers couldn't seem to find their way to the correct hook. I cocked up the whole rotation.
But it wasn't Dillo's first time around the block; she's actually done several of these types of installations, after initially being inspired a few years ago by a more utilitarian use of fishing line in another artwork: "I saw a piece at the DAM -- I don't remember who the artist was -- but it was basically a bunch of objects hanging on the line," she recalled. "I looked up and saw the light refracting off the line, and then I basically multiplied that by 27 miles.
"I'm really interested in light as an active medium," continued Dixon, who noted that her primary medium used to be large-scale abstract-expressionist painting. "I became interested in kind of moving that into space using translucent and reflective materials -- with the line installations, their appearance kind of changes as the light changes, so right now it's taking on this bluish hue, but that'll change as the light shifts throughout the day. It creates kind of a quiet, contemplative space that slows people down."
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Dillo's installation, Light and Line, opens Friday at Ice Cube Gallery and is accompanied by a number of Dillo's other pieces, along with String Theory, works by local artist Sara Goldenberg White.