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Artist Hoss Haley's Drawing Machine will be featured at the Visual Arts Center of Richmond Sept. 4 though Oct. 31. (Photo by David McClister)
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Hoss Haley's "Grey Scale," was made wtih repurposed car parts (photo by Tina Eshleman).
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Hoss Haley pairs "Glacier," made from scrapped washing machines, with "Glacial Erratics No. 1 and 2" constructed from Cor-Ten steel alloy (photo by Tina Eshleman)
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For "Long Pi," Hoss Haley's Drawing Machine scratched a pattern, using rotating numbers, into enamel-covered steel (photo by Tina Eshleman).
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This shows the pattern created by our movements in the gallery, picked up by Hoss Haley's Drawing Machine via motion sensors (photo by Tina Eshleman).
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Hoss Haley's "Red Wad," made from parts of a scrapped car (photo by Tina Eshleman)
Asheville, North Carolina, sculptor Hoss Haley’s Drawing Machine, built in 2010, is a work in progress. It's activated by gallery visitors whose movements, tracked by motion sensors, manipulate a stylus that records their presence by drawing lines on paper or scratching them into a painted metal surface; the marked surface becomes the art.
During a media preview, we walk with Haley to the back of the Visual Arts Center of Richmond's True F. Luck Gallery to find the machine's arms moving, and see how the movements have been recorded on paper. Hanging on the back wall is Long Pi, another example of the machine at work, except that this piece did not involve motion sensors, but rather using rotating digits assigned to the machine's control centers.
"Because pi is an infinite number, the pattern will never be the same," Haley says. "It will always be evolving." In a similar way, the movement of people around the gallery is continuously changing as well.
Drawing machines, as a concept aren't new, says Haley. “What I wrestled with in the beginning was how do you introduce an element of randomness?”
“Every time I’ve displayed it, it’s a different version of itself,” he says. His work will be shown in the "Yield" exhibition at the Visual Arts Center from Sept. 4 to Oct. 31.
Among the sculptures are examples of his “White Series,” using metal from junked washing machines. "What’s surprising is how many washing machines are brought to the scrap yard,” Haley says. “To the point that we started rejecting ones we thought weren’t in good enough shape.”
Much of the material used in Haley's sculptures come from the same scrap yard, and they're manipulated into art with hydraulic presses he built himself — also using scrapped materials.
“The sweet part about the washing machine metal is how easy it is to manipulate; it’s like paper,” he says. The Brancusi-undulant Tessellation No. 1 is lightweight, despite its 9-foot height.
A sister piece, Twin, constructed of Cor-Ten steel alloy that Haley purchased new, weighs 1,000 pounds.
A series of metal globes lines one wall of the gallery, comprising a sculpture called Grey Scale, formed out of scrapped car hoods and other parts, in varying shades of gray. On a perpendicular wall, there's a red globe — because, Haley says, there happened to be a red car at the scrap yard one day.
"I go to the scrap yard every few days," he says. "It's a way of responding to what's available." He also muses about how the materials coming into the yard reflect what's happening in the larger world. "When China started to falter in its economy, steel started piling up because China wasn't buying the steel scraps." And it was the 2008 recession that prompted Haley to explore using washers and dryers because, he says, "that's what was showing up." People were looking for more ways to make a little cash and keep food on the table, he adds. Meanwhile, the industrial scraps from commercial buildings became less plentiful as projects stalled.
"Even though I don't feel a real need to make any strong political and social statements, by using materials available to me," he says, "there is a commentary based on what I'm responding to."
If you're at the airport in Charlotte, North Carolina, in the next couple of weeks, you might catch a sculpture by Haley being installed at the fixed-base operator (FBO) terminal, where private jets arrive and depart. At 40 feet tall and 50,000 pounds, it should be hard to miss. He says it's called Old Growth, inspired by trees. "The idea was to do something that had that sensation of being enveloped," he says.
Haley will be at the opening reception on Friday, Sept. 4, from 6 to 8 p.m., and he'll return for an artist talk on Oct. 29 at 7 p.m. 353-0094 or visarts.org. You can find out more about Haley and his work in this video: