Wordplay Header Graphic
153L Then 2012 , Gyöngy Laky, ash, commercial wood, paint, screws, 19” x 19”, 2012; 62jm The Other Side of the Moon, John McQueen, white pine bark and vine, 32″ x 18″ x 14″, 1992. Photo by Tom Grotta

It’s just one week until the opening of Wordplay: Messages in Branches and Barkpresented by browngrotta arts and the Flinn Gallery, Greenwich Library, Greenwich, CT.  WordPlay highlights the work of Gyöngy Laky and John McQueen, artists known for innovative sculptures made of twigs and bark deftly combined with manmade materials. The works in Wordplay involve visual puns and puzzles, text and symbols that delighted viewers will want to decode. Both artists use materials found in nature in combination with unexpected manmade elements to create baskets and other recognizable forms, such as words, symbols, books, and animal and human figures. 

Gyöngy Laky in her studio
Gyöngy Laky in her studio. Photos by Tom Grotta

Textile artist and sculptor Gyöngy Laky (b. 1944) has been described as a “wood whisperer.” Her highly individual, puzzle-like assemblages of wood and found objects have helped to propel the growth of the modern fiber-arts movement. Laky is known for contemporary basketmaking, large, 3-dimensional letters, words, and symbols, and indoor and outdoor installations. She uses organic materials like apple branches and orchard trimmings and combines them with manufactured materials, such as screws, wire, zip-ties, golf tees, toothpicks, and coffee stirrers. Laky considers herself an “artist participant” and comments upon environmental and political issues that are of concern to her.

John McQueen in his studio
John McQueen in his studio. Photos by Tom Grotta

Sculptor John McQueen (b. 1943) uses willow, bamboo, birch bark, waxed string, found objects and manmade materials to create life-like animal and human images, and objects such as baskets and books that incorporate woven text. Nearly all of his works employ traditional basketmaking techniques, which he learned at Pueblo reservations in New Mexico in the 1970s. Some of McQueen’s sculptures and wall art images include flattened and cut pieces of plastic bottles, which he uses to comment on the relationship between the natural and manmade world. All of the letters and symbols in his books, baskets, and wall text pieces form words and messages, some obvious and others that lead to “ah-ha” moments when properly deciphered. 

Wordplay graphic with work by both artists
131L Deviation, Gyöngy Laky, apple, acrylic paint, screws, 30” x 60” x 2.5”, 2020; 58jm Scoundrels’ Chronicles, John McQueen, twigs, waxed twine (Pigeon, Starling, Vulture, Sparrow, Crow, Blue Jay), 4″ x 19″ x 19″ (closed), 1992. Photos by Tom Grotta

Wordplay: Messages in Branches & Bark will include more than 50 sculptures by these two innovative artists. There are elements of wit, whimsy, and fantasy in many of the pieces, leaving visitors both awed and amused. All of the works on display are for sale and the proceeds go to the Friends of the Greenwich Library to support public programming for patrons of all ages.

Wordplay graphic with work by both artists
143L Equivoque, Gyöngy Laky, various prunings, dowels, 17” x 17” x 3” , 2004; 60jm Spekigntungs, John McQueen, willow, waxed string, 92″ x 109″, 2004. Photos by Tom Grotta

Wordplay: Messages in Branches and Bark coincides with Earth Day. Laky and McQueen are deeply concerned with the state of the world – environmentally, politically, and socially. Laky will participate in an Online Artist Talk on April 20th at 7 pm EST. McQueen will be at the Flinn Gallery for an Artist Talk on April 30th at 2 pm. The exhibition is accessible for people of all ages and will include hands-on activities for children, such as a materials “touch box” and “I Spy” and word search puzzles for various skill levels. Find more details below: 

M, T, W, F, Sa 10 am – 5 pm Th 10 am – 8 pm
Su 1 pm – 5 pm

Thursday, March 30, 6 – 8 pm

Saturday, April 15, 2 pm – Tom Grotta – Walkthrough
Thursday, April 20, Online, 7 pm – Gyöngy Laky – Artist Talk
Saturday, April 30, 2 pm – John McQueen – Artist Talk

Flinn Gallery, Greenwich Library, Second Floor 101 West Putnam Avenue Greenwich, CT 06830 203.622.7947.

RESERVATIONS (Not required but recommended) 
Reservations for the artist talks and walkthrough are recommended but not required: EventBrite.