Roy McMakin, 2004
concrete, fiberglass, wood, bronze, enamel, steel, stone
Fabricated by Big Leaf Manufacturing, Seattle
Commissioned by the University of California, San Francisco
(American, b. 1956)
Roy McMakin's work looks at the design and function of domestic environments, finding in them unexpected and hidden associations. Subtle and highly crafted, his furniture and his art explore the nature of representation, function, decoration, and celebration in both public and private life. During his career McMakin has lived in San Diego, Los Angeles and Seattle, where he is currently based, and at various times he has worked as an architect and designer as well as artist, nimbly crossing and exploring boundaries between professions, including here at the Mission Bay campus where he adopted one of the roles normally taken by a landscape architect.
McMakin's untitled collection of furniture was installed throughout the Koret Quad in July 2004. His materials include concrete, fiberglass, wood, bronze, enamel, steel, and stone. The piece uses an ultra-functional double-sided concrete bench design devised by the artist, which seems to have been arranged in a regular pattern around the perimeter of Mission Bay's primary outdoor space. But the bench module has then been dissected, overturned, transformed, and rearranged in all kinds of different ways, and also reproduced in four colorful shades of red and orange polyester.
It is as if the residents had come out and taken the regular arrangement of outdoor furniture and energetically disturbed it to suit their needs, adding many other things along the way. The installation extends across two acres and combines 125 different items, including a number of laboratory "minus 80" freezers and cardboard "banker's boxes" (made for storing files) - here immaculately reproduced in enamel. There are contemporary disposable plastic patio chairs, 19th century wood schoolroom chairs, and Eames side chairs - all cast in bronze. There are also natural boulders, bronze tree stumps in place of some of the planted trees (and reproducing their bark) , and bronze replicas of weathered planks. The piece is an exploration of sculptural representation, of functionality, design, as well as human invention and adaptability.