L E V I R O B B
S T E E L P E N N Y
June 3 - July 30, 2022
This collection of work reappropriates found material and gleans preloaded symbols through a process of cutting, collaging, and casting. The resulting pieces become artifacts left behind through this process of deconstructing consumer detritus and existing ubiquitous objects – transposing their original appearance into a new form of material cartography. The exhibition expands on Robb’s ongoing investigation into the reciprocal relationship of human, object and landscape — what society and culture hold to be sacred, what is considered commodity, and the impact of time.
The Tarp paintings in this body of work are created through acts of collaging found material into assemblage casting matrices. Acrylic and spray paint, highway safety glass and other mediums are cast in various combinations into the matrix repeatedly over several weeks. Once the medium reaches a substantial thickness and solidity the cast tarp is meticulously removed from the casting bed and applied to a new host – canvas, panel, or artist-made rigid box frames. The found materials used to create these matrices include cast-off debris, standardized construction items, consumer-grade packaging, asphalt shingles, aluminum cans and common everyday symbols such as road construction markings or the American flag.
The exhibition title references the wartime practice of shifting typical material manufacturing processes and techniques in order to conserve those materials viewed as precious, sacred, or valuable — i.e., the 1943 US cent manufactured in steel to conserve copper.
Levi Robb is a multidisciplinary artist and architect. Robb’s work explores the role of material perception and identity within social, environmental and cultural contexts. His practice investigates how we attach memory to object, landscape and architecture – how we search for joy and fulfillment within the confines of these day-to-day items – and how their applied labels shift and evolve over time, in turn creating an implied material hierarchy through the embedded human histories left behind. The formal qualities of his work visually break down, abstract and reconstruct discarded forms – often transposing cast objects and material found on the landscape by reassembling the castings as archetypal sculpture. This process yields a unique body of work the artist refers to as, “Deconstructed Americana”.
Robb holds a B.Arch from Iowa State University and has spent periods of time studying and practicing in Rome, Italy and the American Southwest. In 2018 Robb completed artist residencies at the Tallgrass Prairie National Preserve in Strong City, Kansas and at the Association of Icelandic Artists - Seljavegur in Reykjavik, Iceland. In 2020/2021 he was named an Iowa Arts Fellow. His work has been exhibited internationally and is held in both public and private collections.