For twelve days, McMahon overtook T + H Gallery to produce Sojourn, a new installation by the artist. Billowing white forms peer out at visitors through the glassed-in corner of the gallery, poised within like a ship in a bottle. An arena of amassed, voluminous, objects fills a large portion of the space, their billowing nature cinched into place by a corral of pipes and hardware. What at first appear to be seven pliable and soft forms, are in fact rigid casts intertwined and trapped within their metal stockade and the surrounding architecture. Their materiality points directly to the temporal nature of the work, framed by its inevitable destruction.
Cast into place, Sojourn’s presence transforms T + H gallery into a stage, the only kind upon which it will exist, highlighting the labor of process and elaborate engineering along with the unique life span of the work. A video in the adjacent gallery presents McMahon’s investigation into architectural space and the theatrical and sensory elements intertwined within his material investigations and constructions.
McMahon has been creating site-specific work since 2004. In 2006 he and co-collaborators successfully overtook a courtyard of a school with a large-scale suspension of unfired raw clay. His past work has often transformed alternative spaces. In 2012, he created Double Hull at a former Methodist church, engulfing the space with a 16-by-9-by-6-foot construction made of plaster, steel and wood – it resembled two bulging pillows, and in the end he shattered the work. McMahon says: “From this point on, I began addressing my work more as moments in time rather than a sculpture.” Continuing on with Cascade (2014), he converted Suyama Space in Seattle into a momentary stage, filling the space with two twenty-foot high curtains made with a removable mold of rubber sheeting layered with 2,000 pounds of sprayed plaster. Cascade was as much about construction as it was destruction. Like Double Hull and Momentary Event (2013) - a smaller version of the curtain constructed at the Bemis Center for the Contemporary Arts – Cascade came down within fleeting seconds in the end - the artist leaving the installation as a pile of plaster crumbled upon the floor: a performative gesture as important as the construction.
McMahon received a BFA in Ceramics from the New York State College of Ceramics (Alfred University) and a MFA in Sculpture and Extended Media from Virginia Commonwealth University. His work has been shown both nationally and internationally including: Crane Arts (Philadelphia,), Jingdezhen Ceramic Institute (Jingdezhen, China), The Pacific North West College of Art (Portland), Pierogi Boiler Room (New York), G-Fine Arts (Washington) and Suyama Space (Seattle), among several others. McMahon was awarded the Jacob K. Javits Fellowship from 2009-2013. He has been awarded top grants and residences at Sculpture Space and Bemis Center For Contemporary Arts. McMahon currently resides in Hornell, NY, where he is the co-founder/director of the Belfry, an artist-run exhibition space.