Linda Howard, Sky Fence

Linda Howard (American, 1934)
Sky Fence, 1976
Photo: Claire Ruzicka.
18’ x 19’ x 9’
Click to listen to docent Jerome Trewyn talk about Sky Fence.

Linda Howard was born in Evanston, Illinois in 1934. The artist received her Bachelor of Arts from the University of Denver and her Master of Arts from Hunter College.  She has taught at various universities in New York, Colorado and Florida. Her large-scale public art works can be found across the country, frequently in the collections of museums and universities. In the late 1970s, she became the first woman artist to exhibit in New York’s City Hall Park when Maya, her commission for the 1980 Winter Olympics, was temporarily on display.

Howard’s work is composed of straight aluminum beams that are ground to a luster, a technique also used by sculptor David Smith. Light is an important characteristic of Linda Howard’s sculptures. She sands the exterior of her pieces, transforming the surface into a light catcher. The treatment, as in Smith’s sculptures, creates both reflections and shadows that suggest movement in an otherwise physically static work.

Sky Fence is composed of straight aluminum pieces connected to each other but spaced so as not to appear to be a solid mass. The aluminum pickets create two large sheets that meet near the top and intersect, with one of the sheets of aluminum surpassing the other high in the sky. The spacing of the aluminum enables the viewer to look through the sculpture, producing a sense of transparency that allows the piece to blend into the environment in which is it placed, while providing for maximum light to shine through. The sculpture draws the eye up to the sky, hence the name, and becomes an archway through which the viewer is invited to pass. Howard refers to archways as gateways into transitional spaces. Sky Fence becomes a gateway full of shadows through which the viewer passes into an alternate conceptual reality dominated by the ground, the sky, light, and movement.