Fay Wood, a resilient artist in Saugerties, NY, channels her experiences with loss, music, and life’s challenges into diverse and transformative art forms, ranging from wire sculptures to found-object assemblages, reflecting her journey of creativity and healing.
“Tapestries of My Mind- Storm I”.
Wool, silk, cotton fibers, paint, found objects.
53” x 33” x 2”
Fay Wood opens the door to her Saugerties, NY, home and greets me with a warm smile. Iâ€™m led to the living room and to a comfortable leather sofa where I settle in for a visit. Fay sits across from me in an armchair, the table next to it containing a wire cutter, coated wires, and other materials that are part of a work in progress.
Fay has had a challenging few years recently, grappling with Covid isolation and the loss of her husband, to whom she was married for many years. She shut down and her creative side took a break. She used art to process difficult situations in the past – her favorite piece, “Tapestries of My Mind,” was created on her lap in the living room surrounded by the wreckage of furniture after a hurricane destroyed her home and studio. So why wasn’t she using art now to process these difficult situations?
"Three-Ring Pandemic Circus - Flying Alone”. Galvanized & plastic-coated copper wire, Brass rings, Found objects, hanging wire. 17.5 x 14” x 13”
Music has always played a role in Fay’s creation of art. She’s listened to Phillip Glass, Pink Floyd, and sometimes the classics, but it was always in the role of accompanying her while she creates. Then one day, not too long ago, she came upon a music video of the Simon and Garfunkel classic “Sound of Silence” but the ballad she knew so well was transformed into a different song. It breathed new life into something so familiar and she welcomed the change.
The baritone vocals sent chills down Fay’s spine and ignited a creative spark. She started exploring more music by this band Disturbed, and was surprisingly drawn to the lyrics and energy of the heavy metal band. Inspired by the visual of the song’s video, she began her latest series of sculptures, “Three Ring Pandemic Circus.”
The sculpture series, which consists of human figures in various movements, is first formed with chicken wire then covered with a layer of color-coated wire. “I finally found a use for the box of wire I’ve been holding on to for 20 years,” she laughs. The hand-crocheted wire acts as a skin and clothing for the beings that take up to six months each to complete. All of the figures have metal hoop rings incorporated into the work. Some of the figures seem to be tangled inside and trying to escape the confinement of the rings, while others are rejoicing in their rings. The faces are featureless and they all share a round smooth head modeled after Disturbed’s singer.
Found Object Assemblage, wood, metal 40” length, 44” wingspan
Fay Wood has been creating art for over sixty years and is best known for her found object sculptures. “I felt compelled to rescue from the refuse pile some of the elegant pieces of wood and other objects I had come upon. I learned to deeply appreciate work in three dimensions, using my own imaginary space,” she explained about her process of creating assemblage and sculptural work. “Imaginary space is where you look ‘into’ the object, perhaps becoming part of it as if in another spectrum. In a sense in my ‘found art’ I found myself.”
She works on various projects at a time, using different mediums and styles, which is apparent when we ascend the stairs to the second floor. Each room has been turned into a studio – one each for sculpture, collage, and painting. We first enter her sculpture studio where magnificent creations come to life. Hanging in a corner is a dragonfly sculpture made from ceiling fan blades, a rod, and various wires. It watches over her work area which is filled with common and unusual objects waiting to find a place in her art.
Arranged on one wall of the studio are pieces from her Cutting Garden series of hanging sculptures made from sheet metal and found objects familiar to one’s garden and workspace, including power saw blades that are transformed into poinsettias and other flora. Fay Wood has found a visual way for crafting these man-made objects into something natural.
“Cutting Garden - Drift I”.
Found sheet metal, found wood, wire, paint, silver
Found papers, found 1959 c.p. drawing, pen/ink drawing, vintage engravings & blueprint, pvc glue. 17” x 13”
“Town & Country- Birds & Beasts”.
Collage - Vintage engravings, vintage papers, found target, wasp’s nest ‘paper’, rag paper, pvc glue. 18” x 31”
We next enter her collage studio across the hall. The collage pieces include carefully selected words and images from medical texts and art books and vintage photographs that create a beautiful balance when assembled together. Works from her Town and Country series highlight birds from various engravings. “I just started fitting them together and almost every collage now has a bird in it of some kind,” she explained. “They add color and life to my works.”
Some of the bird engravings came from her mother’s personal collection, along with a huge drawing that became the basis for her Chapeau series. “It was done in 1959. I never liked
it, but I could not destroy it because I don’t believe in destroying things like that. I had to do something with it,” she explained. “I was making collages and started cutting the faces out. I was finding all kinds of images and odd pieces to go with them. They’re beautiful now.”
She combined the faces with flowers, birds, strips of rag paper, ornate and decorative elements, and swaths of her own paintings to great effect. The collage works are a combination of classic vintage elements with a modern twist and a beautiful homage to the past and her mother’s art.
“Tapestries of My Mind - Wrapped Red Duck” Oil on Canvas. 24” x 24”
The final studio is where Fay paints. Some of her works on canvas have both elements of realism, landscape, and abstract, such as “Tapestries of My Mind — Wrapped Red Duck,” where at first glance you see a collection of ornate waves, perhaps a mountain range, but on closer look, folds in fabric are revealed. In her works on glass, full abstract is painted on one side but viewed from the reverse side of the glass. The technique really highlights the brush strokes in the painting and her perfectly balanced color choices.
We settle down again in her living room to wrap up our studio visit. She tells me of how her life is in transition, but it’s clear that she’s excited about what is to come. Finishing her wire sculpture series will keep her busy for a bit longer, but she’s ready for the next project. She’s not sure what that will be, but she welcomes the challenge and keeps her eyes and ears open for that next spark of inspiration.
Reverse oil painting on Glass. 9” x 12” image