Visual Arts

Take a walk through the shadows and light of tesselate tonight at PlatteForum

Melissa Borrell has been making jewelry for years -- stylish, lightweight metal or 3D-printed nylon necklaces and dangling earrings in clean, sculptural shapes. But recently, she's had a hankering to create something larger and less functional. The result goes on display at PlatteForum when her installation, tessellate, opens tonight with a reception from 5:30 to 8 p.m.

The result of Borrell's fall residency of several weeks at PlatteForum, tessellate is a walk-through, site-specific installation of lacy cut-Mylar forms that twist through the gallery, dropping complex shadows across the floor and walls.

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"I worked with the idea of using a flat material to make 3-D shapes," Borrell explains. "I've done this before on a smaller scale, but never before in a form where you can experience it while standing inside the sculpture." And though she's never worked before in such a large scale, she feels her work in jewelry prepared her for the more expansive sculptural realm. "It's basically the same aesthetic," she continues. "But just changing the scale changes a lot of things you perceive about the piece. I've been making it as I go. Technically, I knew how the material and cutting worked. I didn't draw a sketch or plan in advance. It's been more of an organic process.

"My jewelry is architectural -- it relates to architecture and space. I became interested in environmental shapes from photographing jewelry -- it cast cool shadows. That interest in shadows became a focus for me."

As part of her residency, Borrell also mentored youth from Joan Farley Academy at the Third Way Center, leading Learning Labs during which they learned similar techniques, but working in paper. But it took a little researched instruction to get them truly absorbed in the medium.

"There are so many different things you can do with paper," she enthuses. "We usually think of paper as a flat surface to draw on, so it was my job to get them excited about making something on bigger scale. We did exercises showing different ways to cut the paper, and then we started making an installation, which also developed organically."

Along with tessellate, the colorful student work, Cave of Fascinations, will remain on view at the gallery through October 31. Borrell will also lead an adult workshop, Illuminated Sculpture, on the evening of October 29, for a $59 fee (go to the Eventbrite page to register).

For more information visit the PlatteForum website.

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