by Shailaja Tripathi Aug 19, 2020
Liminality is an in-between state characterised by an ambiguity, an expansiveness, and indeterminacy; one can think of it as a moment of transition, when the boundaries of thought, understanding, and action are suspended to allow space for something new, different, even transcendental to take form.
In the creative process the liminal space can be uncomfortable, feeling different and slightly off. Many-a-times it is the state where transformation is only beginning to take place - not quit there but on its way. Or the blank space between start and finish, when the work is still shaping and evolving under the artist’s hand. It is perhaps this sense of being on the threshold which makes the liminal space unsettling to us, as though one is on the verge of exaltation, yet still the goal being the exalted state not the threshold itself. For Swiss artist and visual creator Claudia Meyer, the liminal space is where her creative process comes to life, comfortable within its non-conformity, its capacity for introspection, malleability, and its eventual potential for transformation. Meyer uses technology, mixed media, and nature as her main influences. She was trained as a graphic artist at Hochschule für Gestaltung und Kunst in Luzern and later as a fabric designer studying silk-screen printing at the Fashion Institute of Technology in New York, for her materials are what ‘trigger ideas’, the primers to the creativity itself.
"I see no boundaries when it comes to using various mediums. Nature is and always has been a very powerful and important source of inspiration to me, but so is everything else that catches my eye. I am constantly looking at the world with what I believe to be an open mind,” she says. Light and shadow play become an outward expression of the subliminal emotional landscape in her work. As the viewer we start to pick up on the poignancy of the transitional state in Meyer’s art, which juxtaposes the natural with the man-made, light against shadows to create a haunting portrayal of futuristic yet organic creations. Nature is interpreted through the artistic lens as an ever-evolving landscape of change, one that is impacted upon by the circular and the cyclical, consistently shaping a dialogue within the raw and primal energy field of the physical environment representative of a state of duality. This duality is further explored through the man-made materials which are part of the Meyer's toolbox - back lights, plexiglass, reflective surfaces, and more – and are used to create sculptural meditations of the physical world.
Take for instance her work Ethereal Mid-Day and Ethereal Night, in what appears to be an elegant dance of light and shadow, two parallel lightscapes made of reflective surfaces and hand engraved back lights, evoke two completely different and subverted readings. In Ethereal Mid-Day, we face an opacity created by a kind of brightness which borders on exposure, this is representative of natural light or daylight. The clarity one would come to expect in the context is overturned and brought out instead in Ethereal Night, which by comparison is darker but clearer, its elements made visibly distinctive through the sheer limitation on brightness. “I am fascinated by light,” Meyer says, “and its natural day and night cycle. Also, by water and the visual variations and mutations it encompasses. I am continuously involved in developing my own abstract hand writing. Music and sounds are also emerging themes in my practice, and architecture has a continuous and substantial influence on my work. All of these elements are more often than not embedded within my sculptural or painterly strokes and lines”.
There is a distinctive convergence in the mediums with which Meyer works, bringing surprising and opposing elements together as in Concordance I, which is a series of sculptural pieces made of a reflective surface, stainless steel, hand engraving, and back light. The intersecting strokes of light come together in a circular loop giving a textured reading to an otherwise flat surface, the reflective surface itself adding another dimension to the light-play. This random, independent interaction between light - the artificial back light and the natural light - transforms the piece through the day.
“The narrative in my work shapes into form through converging artistry and subliminal emotions. By combining raw materials with technology through abstraction. I often use light as a brush stroke, not only as a light source,” informs Meyer.
Texture is key to the process of creation, be it light-play, colours, patterns, or a hand-written script developed via countless computerised painting techniques. Looking at Spiral of Words Mid-Day and Spiral of Words Night, on first glance we can be excused in believing that the writing is that of a child who has not yet learned to make order of the shapes and forms of words. As though hiding away in these strokes is a secret universe of imagination and make-believe. However, what appears to the onlooker to be a cacophony of symbols and shapes, is actually a written script flipped over and placed one on top of another to the point of illegibility. Everything has its order and place in the universe of Meyer, which is rich in its symbolism, especially that of circles and cycles. Even in the two iterations of Spiral of Words Mid-Day and Night, we see the words descending into a spiral confined within the bounds of circles of light. The thematic significance of these circles is obvious in her artist statement of the ever-evolving creative process, of her work she says "it is a permanent work in progress, it never stands still. It is a timeless ongoing conversation”.
Meyer’s liminal process over-arches the body of her work lending it a transitional quality, where a variety of elements, mediums, and influences come together in a cohesive and subliminal whole. She arrives at each juncture of her practice having evolved and imbibed all that came before, merging it further with all that is yet to come in a state of continuous transformation.