In the studio with Fran Siegel
In the northwest corner of Fran Siegel’s studio, not far from a giant roll of bubble wrap, you’ll find a horizontal band of wire netting suspended between a pair of slender metal armatures, several feet above eye level. But for a few scraps of foil and colored film tied to some of the wires, it isn’t much to look at. Indeed, under most conditions, there is a good chance that you wouldn’t notice it at all. When the sun reaches the right point in the sky, however, angling through a nearby skylight to fall directly across the wires, a twinkling composition of light and shadow springs to life on the wall behind.
Siegel interrupts her discussion of a nearby drawing to point it out before it passes. She describes the work as a visual musical score. “The piece is actually only activated twice a year, in this season,” she says. “I began constructing it last year around this time and then stopped, because in the summer the sun stops here. The studio is on a perfect axis, so about a month ago it projected up there.” She gestures to points on either side of the netting. “Soon this piece won’t exist.”
Spend any time with Siegel or her work and you will find yourself paying closer attention to such conditions: how rooms are shaped, how sunlight moves, the shifting patterns of shadows and the subtle nature of reflected light. She is captivated by questions of spatial and atmospheric perception. Her works — sculptural installations and drawings, primarily — are poetic investigations conducted with the observational rigor of a scientist.
Photo: Fran Siegel looking through a suspended spatial drawing titled "Continuum" at her San Pedro studio; It is made from porcelain, wire, string, paper mache; Credit: Gary Friedman/Los Angeles Times