Sawhill Gallery, James Madison University
Harrisonburg, VA, 2010
I try to figure out how to physically and aesthetically recreate roots and make them into steel sculptures; how to connect the separate parts, and how to hang the final constructions from ceilings, on walls or place them on floors. The dramatic transformation of size, scale, and material lends the works metaphoric significance.
For Sawhill Gallery -- with its heavy black, industrial ceiling, thin slatted wood walls, and cold concrete floor -- the "right roots" were asking to be painted in stark, synthetic black and white. From that moment on, I sought to bring out the formal essence of my chosen roots - that is, to stylize them into their concentrated cores and to connect them to the fabricated, factory-like character of the space.
But my new concept did not end there. In fact, it kept evolving with my travels, inspired most serendipitously by my last visit to my native Israel in May 2009. At Tel Aviv University's botanic gardens, I visited the Sarah Racine Root Laboratory -- the largest aeroponic root laboratory in the world. Extending through three vertically connected open floors spanning over 40 feet, this extraordinary facility nourishes the continuous growth of the root systems of a vast spectrum of diverse and ever-changing plants, trying to simulate their natural underground environment. It turned out, much to my surprise and delight, that this is the only place in the world where one can walk among deep roots - and experience them in the way they grow in the earth. My sculptures aim to expose the hidden parts of the plants, and most amazing, however, was the revelation that these cultivated plant roots appear black and white as they grow in the dark - just as I had envisioned my black and white steel roots in the Sawhill Gallery. This discovery, almost a prophetic encounter, in the ancient land where I put down my own first roots, has given a new depth of meaning and direction to my work.
Ryan, Paul. "Dalya Luttwak." Art Papers 34:4 (July/August 2010): 53.
Tanguy, Sarah. "Dalya Luttwak." Sculpture 29:4 (May 2010): 68-69.
Katzman, Laura, "Planting Roots at JMU: Artist-in-residence explores invisible aspects of the natural world." Madison Magazine 33:2 (Spring/Summer 2010): 2; 6; 27-29.