Ross Hansen: Super Natural

Friday, Sep 11 – Oct 31, 2020

1709 W. Chicago Ave.
Chicago, IL 60622

Ross Hansen, Burly Mappa, 2020

Super Natural is an investigation of assumptions in the field of design. By utilizing processes and materials which have mainly been implemented for industrial production, such as mold making, Hansen repurposes established techniques to create unique functional objects. Hansen questions and expands upon traditional mass production uses of materials, and in turn creates objects with animated and unrepeatable characteristics.

A continuation of themes presented in Hansen’s previous solo exhibition, by the same title in 2018, the works constituting the exhibit are results of continued experimentation with materials and techniques explored in Hansen’s larger body of work. For example, his recent utilization of fiberglass and ceramic epoxy to create planters, which bare a resemblance to botanical specimens in both form and texture. 

With a background in landscape and furniture design, Hansen is inspired by natural and organic happenings of inconsistency, strength, and textures by exposing structural components in his work and making elements of the design process visible. Substrates and internal supports are exposed becoming part of the aesthetic experience of a piece of furniture. 

Hansen expands and recontextualizes techniques and materials beyond their commonly accepted roles within design through a process of deduction. After six years of working with ceramic epoxy, he understands the material’s possibilities and limitations. Hansen custom makes his molds, including registers to combine other materials with the ceramic epoxy cast for structural integrity and aesthetic variation. Molding becomes a process for unique objects due to Hansen’s material decisions and surface treatments of the cast objects. 

The artist has control over the form and color palette of the objects, but the texture and patterning of the pieces are dependent on a level of chance. Despite continuous material trials, Hansen experiences a moment of suspense with each mold pulled waiting to see how the coloration will disperse. The element of chance and suspense is contradictory to the usual aspirations of mass production design, in which identical results are expected. Hansen accepts a level of risk and celebrates the resulting patterns and textures, keeping inconsistencies on the object’s exterior rather than smoothing them out. The textural surface gives the solid objects a gestural feeling, at times fossilizing fingerprints and dents.