Art enthusiasts have a chance to see how Dawn Stetzel turns her scavenging talents into art at her sculpture show, I Could Live There, in the Arts Center this month. Her pieces challenge ideas of place, safety, and community by transforming salvaged items into utility objects like carts, backpacks, and boats.
“Within my human community, I think about the give and take of support from and by individuals that it takes to hold a community together,” said Stetzel. “I think about whom I relate to, or define as my community.”
Stetzel takes her community’s constructs of safety and movement and builds something that echoes her own lifestyle. Her houseboat sculpture consists of a gifted rowboat, wheels, fiberglass panels, salvaged wood, and more. She says it expresses her sense of adaptability and resourcefulness.
“I want to live in a way of safety, yet acknowledge that home is not always a place of security; that at times by embracing fear and taking risks I find meaningful ways to live in a place,” explained Stetzel.
Other sculptures include a backpack that explores the question of taking community everywhere she goes, while an engineered ski cart represents a journey, or a self-built path and direction.
Along with the sculptures themselves, she provides photographs of herself with these objects in action. One that could be particularly relevant to Oregon is her Tsunami Evacuation piece, which is essentially a cart she floats with in the ocean.
Stetzel’s exploration of home and sense of safety is certainly one worth visiting. There is a place for visitors to comment in which many have said certain sculptures resonated with them. Others have challenged Corvallis’ own sense of community.
By Regina Pieracci