Liz Miller

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The Work of Amy Boone-McCreesh: Aggressively Decorative, Resplendently Discordant, and Compellingly Difficult To Look At

 Amy Boone-McCreesh.  Taste and Privilege . exhibition view, 2017.

Amy Boone-McCreesh. Taste and Privilege. exhibition view, 2017.

Baltimore-based artist Amy Boone-McCreesh makes work that is aggressively decorative, resplendently discordant, and compellingly difficult to look at. Her mixed media installations, works on paper, and sculptures pulsate with color and tactility, and even the most three-dimensional works in her oeuvre have an innate relationship to painting. If at first the explosion of color and surface and materiality seems uncontained or unmediated, at closer examination I’d argue that Boone-McCreesh’s work is all about boundaries and edges and the excesses of material juxtapositions within clearly defined limits. If there is an overabundance in her explorations, the excessive is controlled and contained by the points at which there are only flat fields of color, or where textural planes are abruptly truncated.

 Above and below: Amy Boone-McCreesh. "The View." 2017. mixed media garlands, wood, vinyl, latex paint with custom-patterned ottomans. 

Above and below: Amy Boone-McCreesh. "The View." 2017. mixed media garlands, wood, vinyl, latex paint with custom-patterned ottomans. 

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In The View, for example, the installation is framed by flat cloud-like forms that suggest a stage set, emphasizing the artificiality of the environment and reminding the viewer that we are only interlopers in a work that can lure us into its vices, and then shake us free. The custom-patterned ottomans provide a perfect vantage point to take in the illusion, while at the same time becoming part of the mirage. This is the genius of Boone-McCreesh: the ability to make us feel simultaneously welcome and like interlopers. The work speaks to good interior design, bad interior design, and the way in which our tastes as controlled and manipulated by the world around us. Boone-McCreesh calls into question how taste is determined, who has access to the parameters of what we deem tasteful, and how context shapes taste. 

 Above: Amy Boone-McCreesh.  Jack Rabbit, Moments of Rest . 2016. mixed media, collage on cut paper. 38" x 47" x 3". Below: Amy Boone-McCreesh.  Status Symbols.  2018. collage on paper. 

Above: Amy Boone-McCreesh. Jack Rabbit, Moments of Rest. 2016. mixed media, collage on cut paper. 38" x 47" x 3". Below: Amy Boone-McCreesh. Status Symbols. 2018. collage on paper. 

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The overt physicality of Amy Boone-McCreesh's work is often countered by the presence of the digital world, and the two commingle with no introduction or need to announce the arrival of the other. Sampling, Boone-McCreesh is able to create an explosion of color and texture, and then mimic that explosion, confusing the original and the source and creating dizzying complexity. Take, for example, Jack Rabbit, Moments of Rest, or the more recent Status Symbols. Both provide dazzling, confetti-like explosions that take us on a wild optical ride, causing us to look for the source, but never succumbing to the abject observation of the object as a conveyer of something that is "just pretty."

 Above and below: Amy Boone-McCreesh.  Depictions of Power.  2017. custom fabric, vinyl, mixed media garlands Pillars: Acrylic, foam, custom fabric, mixed media garlands, floor vinyl 7’ h x 13’ w x 10.5’ d Pillars range from 3.3’ to 4.5’

Above and below: Amy Boone-McCreesh. Depictions of Power. 2017. custom fabric, vinyl, mixed media garlands Pillars: Acrylic, foam, custom fabric, mixed media garlands, floor vinyl
7’ h x 13’ w x 10.5’ d Pillars range from 3.3’ to 4.5’

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The title of one of Boone-McCreesh's recent installations, Taste and Privilege, seems to hint at the work's ability to confuse what is high and low, beautiful and ugly, or good and bad. If her work is referential to painterly abstraction, it also feels like she's building a lexicon that is entirely new. Her work is exuberant and quick-witted...but also pointed. Boone-McCreesh reminds us that excess is often most exciting when mediated with pointed and exquisite restraint. 

 Amy Boone-McCreesh.  Depictions of Power  (detail). 2017. 

Amy Boone-McCreesh. Depictions of Power (detail). 2017. 

Amy Boone-McCreesh has exhibited her work widely, including recent solo exhibitions at York College of Pennsylvania, Napoleon Gallery in Philadelphia, Rosenberg Gallery at Goucher College, Baltimore, Maryland, and Mixed Greens in New York.  She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a 2016 Maryland Arts Council Individual Artist Award, and her work has been reviewed in publications such as New American PaintingsThe Washington Post, and Beautiful Decay. Boone-McCreesh is also a curator and the mastermind behind INTERTIA, a studio visit blog series that features the work of a variety of artists. 

You can see more of Amy Boone-McCreesh's work later this summer at 13|U window,  a collaboration with the JBGS company and Hamiltonian Artists to provide a space for artists to show their work in their exterior window located at 1310 U street NW in Washington DC. Boone-McCreesh’s site specific window installation will be on view July 18- October 18, 2018.

Hear the artist speak about her work in this short video , and see her website for a complete overview of current and past works. 

 Amy Boone-McCreesh.  Souvenir Change Purse (wish you were here).  collage on paper. 2018.

Amy Boone-McCreesh. Souvenir Change Purse (wish you were here). collage on paper. 2018.

Liz Miller