Hi Everyone! Happy 2013! I started the New Year by installing one of my largest and most ambitious works to-date. Deep Six (crimson) opened as part of Echo Sounding at the Eleanor D. Wilson Museum, Hollins University , Roanoke, VA on Jan 10th. The show also features incredible large-scale drawings of nautical ropes by Huguette Despault May and a mesmerizing kinetic installation by Younseal Eum.
The focus of the exhibition, which runs through March 2, is the ocean, which each artist referenced in their our own way. For my part, I used the exhibition as an opportunity to consider new visual source material. I have always been interested in imagery that connotes both beauty and violence. When Museum Director/Curator Amy Moorefield contacted me about the exhibition, I had just watched The Cove. For those who haven’t seen it, The Cove is a dramatic, difficult-to-watch documentary about the slaughter of dolphins on the coast of Japan, and the secretive way in which this operation happens. I was particularly struck by scenes in the movie in which the water is red with blood–such a brilliant red that one might see it as beautiful if the source of the coloration wasn’t apparent.
Similarly, the phenomenon of a red tide can seem visually appealing until one realizes that it is the result of an imbalance in the ocean’s ecosystem, one that is ultimately toxic to its inhabitants as well as humans who might interact with it directly.
While considering forms for the installation, I researched many different shapes that signify beauty and violence in the ocean, from box jellyfish to harpoons.
The disparate forms I created, based on my research, were unified in a monochromatic palette of bright red, contrasted only by the teal gallery wall on which shadows played.
The Wilson Museum’s Main Gallery is GINORMOUS. It is a gorgeous space…and a space that commands attention. It’s kind of like skiing a black diamond run: If it goes well, it will feel great. But the potential for failure or problems are certainly present. So, per the norm for me, I was a little nervous when my husband David and I arrived in Roanoke on the evening of January 3.
The week, as it turns out, was quite magical–both the install and the southern hospitality that accompanied it! Once I was in the space, I really felt it–the exhilaration of planning and improvising on a large-scale. The work I created was really all that I had hoped for–and also much more. Given the intensity of the shadows cast from the dimensional forms, and the overall scale of the exhibition space, I believe it to be the most immersive environment I have created to-date. It is a work that the viewer can really get inside of, walk through, and be a part of. I can’t thank the museum staff enough for their assistance, and the Art Department faculty for their interest and enthusiasm.
I had the opportunity to chat with Jennifer Anderson‘s installation class in the gallery, and to give a public lecture preceding the opening. I also had some time to take in the absolute beauty and history of the campus, replete with architectural marvels and a majestic mountain backdrop. In our spare time, we ate southern cooking (shrimp and grits! peanut butter pie!) and took a day trip to lovely and historic Lexington, VA, where I was very excited to stumble upon an abundant collection of historic firearms at the Virginia Military Institute Museum.
The museum staff was INCREDIBLE and I really cannot say THANK YOU enough to Director Amy Moorefield; Assistant Director Laura Jane Ramsburg; Preparator and Collections Coordinator Janet Carty; and Museum Coordinator Karyn McAden. Being able to work with such a professional, fun, and helpful staff really made my week delightful.
Honestly, it wasn’t easy to return to below-zero temps. The south loves me…and I love the south right back. I just can’t seem to stay away! In May I’ll be exhibiting at Lexington Art League in Lexington, KY. The exhibition venue is a gothic revival mansion. I can’t wait!
And in just a few short weeks I’ll be participating in Illinois State University’s Visiting Artist Program.
2013 is off to an exciting start. In addition to my large-scale installation projects, I’ll be launching an online store later this year that reflects my commitment to creating affordable, small-scale, collectible works. Stay tuned for updates…and thanks for reading!