Corwin will exhibit a series of cast iron and plaster boats inspired by ancient burial boats used in Egyptian, Anglo-Saxon, and Mapuche societies. The works in this exhibition follows thematically on a series of boats he created for the exhibition Roots Anchors at the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art (a four person show which also included Shervone Neckles, Katie Holten, and Xaviera Simmons). Many cultures see boats as mystical transports to the hereafter, and Corwin’s hand-shaped objects, created in what art-critic Saul Ostrow identifies as an “Art-Brut” sensibility, are meant to evoke vessels, both seaworthy, as much as smaller ritual objects to be used as bowls or containers. Corwin has been working with the Rivers of Steel workshop at The Carrie Furnaces in Pittsburgh, where he has used a process of hand-shaping sand molds which are then cast in iron. This has allowed him to make singular iron objects that both capture the shape of the artist’s fingers and presence, as well as textures of fabric and wood that are imprinted into the mold.
Corwin is intrigued by very basic symbols that appear repeatedly in mythology and scripture: ladders, wheels, and boats, as well as traditional formal poses of the human figure used to denote symbolic actions. Writer Darryl Pinckney has said of the artist’s works that “they answer the unasked for question about mortality.” Indeed, Corwin looked to the burial ship of Sutton Hoo, itself a form literally cast in sand over 1200 years, as a model for his current sculptures: the natural process of wood decay and ossification inspired the spontaneous process of carving, incising, and imprinting the ships timbers into resin-impregnated sand. The small-scale of the boats also references the literalness of the toy-like boats manufactured for ancient Egyptian tombs. The emotion of the objects is playful: while the philosophical references are heavy, the means of representation can be playful; as in the liliputian Egyptian boats found in the galleries of the Metropolitan Museum. Even after the heareafter, life continues on as normal, indefinitely.