2005 was a signal year for Seattle artist Katy Stone: her first solo museum exhibition, including a site-specific installation on view for 10 months at the Boise Art Museum (BAM); her inaugural solo appearance in New York, plus one-woman gallery shows in Seattle and Manhattan Beach, California; and a handsome, full-color catalogue of recent work published by her New York dealer, Neuhoff Gallery. Walking into BAM’s cavernous Sculpture Court where three monumental sculptures by Stone hung ceiling to floor, or into her impressive 2003 installation at Seattle’s Suyama Space, one understood why she has enjoyed such a flurry of curatorial attention lately. Her work may be lucent and ethereal, but it has a commanding presence, exuding an elemental energy that seems to flourish in even the most challenging of settings.
Although Stone’s work certainly fits today’s more inclusive, pliable definition of sculpture, the label doesn’t quite do it justice. Intensely poetic, her art is a hybrid of painting, drawing, sculpture, relief, and installation in which two- and three-dimensional form, color, light, shadow, and air movement interact. Each work is composed from sheets of transparent archival acetate called Dura-Lar on which Stone paints organically derived imagery in acrylic using bamboo brushes. Although the pigment may often look spilled or poured, Stone practically “draws” onto the acetate, carefully controlling viscosity and opacity. She then cuts the acetate into long strips, leaving a margin of unpainted transparent film around the brushstrokes. After repeating the process numerous times, she gathers and manipulates the various layers into sculptural configurations that suggest a multiplicity of subjects and effects