Share
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest

Composition in Corrosion: Brian Kirk’s “Natural Reaction”

Sculpture: Votive Hand by Brian Kirk
Sculpture: Votive Hand by Brian Kirk

After years of trying to prevent rust in his steel sculptures, artist Brian Kirk now welcomes the beauty and complexity of oxidation as an art in and of itself.

But how does Kirk create these haunting compositions? Imagine the marks on your bathtub or sink when you leave something metal there for so long that it starts to rust in the soapy residue and leaves an ochre shadow…Kirk’s process takes that everyday phenomenon and stretches it to a monumental scale to make his rust imprints, finding art in the unpredictability of corrosion. Kirk remarks that “this process is unpredictable—and that’s what makes it interesting to me.”

Brian Kirk: Natural Reaction
Brian Kirk: Natural Reaction

Sandwiched between two sheets of thick watercolor paper or linen, flat metal objects (like keys, metal sculptures, or wire) stay submerged, weighted under a marble slab in a bath of soapy water for several months. The result is a rust print that is almost akin to looking through a microscope—swirling particles, bubbles, and inconsistencies resembling organelles of a cell.

Detail of Cyclon II by Brian Kirk
Detail of Cyclon II by Brian Kirk

Kirk’s creations aren’t just industrial, they’re also influenced by the natural world. Votive Hand, inspired by a similar mica hand made by the Hopewell Indians, was originally steel, cut with a plasma cutter, before being reborn via Kirk’s oxidation method.

Dancing Moons by Brian Kirk
Dancing Moons by Brian Kirk

“Art doesn’t just happen in a vacuum,” says Kirk. “It’s a part of living.”

See Brian Kirk’s “Natural Reaction” in The Art League Gallery, now through October 7, and join us for our September Opening Reception Thursday, September 13, 6:30–8:00 pm.  Also, be sure to RSVP for Drawn In: Taking a Closer Look at Brian Kirk’s Solo Exhibit on September 20, from 6:00 pm to 7:30 pm.

Can't get enough?

Sign up for our weekly blog newsletter, subscribe to our RSS feed, or like us on Facebook for the latest Art League news.

Visit our homepage for more information about our classes, exhibits, and events in Old Town Alexandria, Virginia.

Share this
Share on facebook
Share on twitter
Share on linkedin
Share on pinterest
Related articles
The League's 2019 nationally juried Tabletop exhibit features a functional ceramic, metal, and functional wares – perfect for wedding gift or an update to your own collection. The 50 juried pieces in the exhibit include metal utensils, wood and ceramic bowls, beautiful serving platters, ornate vases, practical but beautiful mugs, and even a small few tables!

Did you know?

You can support The Art League every time you shop through AmazonSmile!

Simply set The Art League as your chosen charity, and every time you shop at smile.amazon.com, a portion of your purchase will be donated to support our mission to share the experience of visual arts with the community.