Sunday, November 8, 2009

Spills, Birds, Satellites

(Click here to see these images in a larger-format slideshow.)

Just before departing for my temporary teaching position in Olympia, WA, I put up a selection of my recent works for friends and family at the Clean Space Gallery on OSU's campus. It was a great opportunity to experiment with ways of showing these pieces, which were made over the course of two years.

At eye level
At normal art-viewing height are the most resolved pieces, offering a synthesis of my ideas about spillage, chaos, and order. These works are deeply psychological for me, and reflect the ongoing process to understand my past and the relationships that have shaped who I am today. Many have an aerial or synoptic perspective. The palette is cool, calculated, and sometimes hyper-colorful, just like the countless satellite images I grew up looking at when I went with my mom to work at the EROS Data Center, a partner facility of the US Geological Survey. The satellite is a remote sensing device. Its eye is emotionless. It is clinical and unflinching. There are times in my life when I want this incorruptible perspective—to see my situations, relationships, and artwork with a calm clarity.

In contrast, I invite liquid into my work to act as a mentor, collaborator, and antagonist in my efforts to let go of control. With its susceptibility to gravity, evaporation, and pooling, liquid serves as a counterpoint to the straight lines and geometric shapes present throughout the imagery, and stands in as the great Unexpected to which one must adapt. By welcoming it into my artwork, I attempt to build flexibility and responsiveness into my process and mindset.

Above eye level
Along the top of the room, I displayed a chronological record of my evolution through material and form in my drawings. They are experimentations, and not necessarily complete works unto themselves. I installed them high above in the clerestory level of the space so that they could only be seen in any detail with binoculars. I think of this as the idea space--above one's head and just out of sight. The viewer who wants to see them up close must exercise willpower to do so. Observation is an active task; birders know this all too well. Like birders, the viewers had access to technology (binoculars) to undertake this task, if they so chose.

Below eye level
On the floor of the space, I installed my Water Shadows. Made from tulle, these patterns read more like wet spots on the floor, and many people walked on them. (They even fooled the facilities maintenance supervisor, who thought his crew had some cleanup to do. I showed him the secret of them--boy was he surprised when I picked up a "stain"!) I like the idea of activating the peripheral, and its important role in stimulating curiosity.

Many of these pieces will be on view during January in my solo show at the Ohio Arts League gallery in Columbus. More info on that to come soon!

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