Confluence – Loren Schwerd
The interlaced sculptures in the exhibition Confluence, germinated from a trove of colorful plastic shards that I gathered one afternoon about 5 years ago, while visiting the Oregon Coast. The ever present, man-made debris, was even more ubiquitous that spring, having crossed the ocean on currents carrying wreckage from the Tsunami that had hit the northeastern coast of Japan in 2011.
The small fragments were scattered like confetti along the beach. Upon close inspection, I could see that the sun and salt had hewn their surfaces, producing subtle, organic textures in a broad spectrum of colors. They reminded me of the red, blue, and green sea glass that my mother and I eagerly gathered along the shore when I was young. We displayed our treasure in jars on the window sill to catch the sunlight.
During the remaining weeks of my visit I encountered many troubling but beautiful examples of the sea’s capacity to reform and ornament refuse. A small fishing boat had survived its long journey across the Pacific intact, but its once smooth contours were now heavily festooned with goose barnacles. Turbulent weavings of fishing line and buoy, driftwood and kelp regularly emerged at low tide.
The works in Confluence aspire to embody the chaos and intricacy of those transfigured objects. They are amalgams of natural and synthetic elements. Entwined by methods drawn from net making, basketry, and needle lace, they balance suggestions of craft and accrual, and of human agency and complicity. They reflect the unnerving beauty and ambiguity that lured me to reclaim the discarded matter and to consider the implications of such a conversion.
In planning this exhibition for the ACA Side Gallery, I was inspired to use the space framed by its prominent columns. Drift visualizes the ghost vessel I encountered on Lincoln Beach being swept across the convergence zone by the powerful Kuroshio “Black Current” and North Pacific Currents.