Using her trusty blowtorch, artist and welder Cal Lane burns delicate lace-like patterns into reclaimed steel objects. She says she thinks of the original materials - such as shovels, manhole covers, dumpsters, wheelbarrows and i-beams - as “male” because of their industrial nature. Lane enjoys pushing the dichotomy of feminine and masculine by combining patterns of domesticity with these cold, harsh symbols of masculine blue collar labor.
Lane was raised on Vancouver Island, where she studied fine art and, later, welding. But instead of traditionally using the method to join two pieces of metal together, she employed her painting training, and began using her blow torch as a subtractive tool, slowly burning pieces of steel away to reveal patterns. A believer of extremes, she combined her methods with opposing materials to further understand the relationship between comparing and contrasting.
After 2005, her focus on making shovels and dumpsters into pretty objects had shifted to have a somewhat more political tone. Feeling like a “guilty bystander” in the time of our war for oil, Lane’s newer body of work uses cast off oil drums and smaller cans as her medium. The cans are skinned and splayed out in cross-shapes or made to look like Gothic cathedral floor plans. Even more literal was her exhibition “Crude”, in which Lane plasma-cut a map of the world into a large oil tank for a result that was simultaneously beautiful and powerful. She also created a 1000 gallon Lace Oil Tank, complete with fabricated cut “Oil Spill.”
Most recently, Lane has undertaken an ambitious project that greatly exceeds her previous scale of work. She has been commissioned on a large project to use her lace technique on an old 62 foot Soviet submarine that has been left to rot in Montenegro. With this new focus and tone, Lane’s work effectively addresses our world’s problem of war and oil exploitation, while her materials emphasize her drive for conservation and sustainability.
Photos © Foley Gallery