Curated by Summer McCorkle
Kim Beck, Marina Berio, George Boorujy, John Bowman, Emilie Clark, Renee Delores, Kalika Gorski, Jeff Grant, Bettina Johae, Joan Linder, Rita MacDonald, Conor McGrady, Ben Polsky, Kako Ueda, and Katarina Wong
Exhibition Dates: April 2 - May 15, 2005
Charged with an artists' intentions and desire to convey a multi-faceted idea or a complex emotion, the smallest drawing can become larger than life and the largest drawing a personal keepsake. This exhibition explores the many approaches artists take to drawing representationally, in and outside of traditional methods, ranging in subject matter, material and scale. The materials span from graphite and gouache to plaster etching and paper cuttings. Scale ranges from the size of a sheet of paper to employing a 20-foot wall. Influences from nature to architecture, photography, the written word and the idea of place reflect the broad scope of this intriguing and adaptable medium.
Emilie Clark utilizes a mid-19th century book by a woman botanist named Mary Ward, written in letter form to an unknown “Emily”. Based solely on Ward's written descriptions of her observations under the microscope, Clark brings to life these scientific findings through her watercolor and graphite drawings. Though still recognizable, these drawings of insects and plants act less as scientific evidence and more as artistic interpretation. As the project progressed, Clark felt a strong affinity to Ward. Attempting to address issues of art, science, religion and the role of women that surfaced while working on the project, Clark responds to Ward's letters with her own, presented here in book form.
Jeff Grant presents two drawings in graphite of the giant squid. Scarcely visible on a paper reminiscent of cloudy seawater, his squid is obscured as it might be found in the sea. Legend and folklore such as Alfred Lloyd Tennyson's The Kraken have replaced scientific observation of this elusive creature, as any attempts to observe it in the sea or bring it to the surface alive have always failed. Through his drawings, Grant conveys this same mystery and wonder that surround the squid itself.
Kako Ueda's beautiful, intricately cut paper drawings contain an inner garden that overloads the senses with imagery that is seductive and turbulent. Using organic representations of body organs, insects, animals and vegetation, Ueda explores notions of illness and the body as an eco-system that must be kept in balance, based on the science of traditional Eastern medicine.
George Boorujy investigates a different balancing act, where nature and humankind overlap resulting in the unnatural. Beached seals lounge around decaying buildings; grasshoppers perch ominously on windswept grass near a vacated car in a barren land; a deer hangs in an unnatural position as the victim of a hit and run. Each scene represents the ebb and flow of this co-dependent yet mutually destructive relationship.
Katarina Wong presents a 7-foot white-on-white drawing invisible from straight on. Quiet waves, reminiscent of a water pattern from classic Chinese art, are only revealed when sought after. Wong also includes small graphite drawings on denril vellum of imagery recorded during numerous flights from New York to North Carolina. As in her wave piece, these drawings reward patience, as seemingly pure abstractions give way to land masses and cloud forms. Hung a few inches away from the wall, the drawings undulate as they respond to the air-flow and body movement of the viewer.
Growing upwards into the 40-foot clerestory is Joan Linder's ink and pen drawing of a giant blue tree. This drawing is part of a series of four, created from direct observation and stylized after Asian landscape painting. All the trees were drawn on-site at various locations in the United States. This specific tree lives in Knoxville, Tennessee.
Bettina Johae's site-specific project Borough Edges, NYC remaps the five New York City boroughs based on waterfront accessibility inferred from excursions around the perimeter of each. The large map that results, transferred here directly on the wall, is an abstracted rendition of New York as we know it. Johae also plays a slide show of images systematically shot along the way, revealing New York City defined outside of its famous landmarks. This is the New York of gated communities, ship cemeteries, hazardous waste dumps, beach-front property and sleepy neighborhoods, exoticized as any unfamiliar place would be.
Through containment onto a surface, John Bowman holds onto a treasured place by recreating a cathedral, plaza or opera house from it that he felt an affinity with. These gigantic charcoal erasures, whose details emerge from pure blackness by erasing, replace the small trinket souvenir with a photographic-like image encapsulating memory that is almost palpable. Here, Bowman will present one of his erasures applied directly on the balcony wall.
Ben Polsky similarly uses his drawings as a method for re-creating an adventure or place he has explored. Seeking out derelict buildings that stand as relics to the industrial past, Polsky surveys the site by photographing it. These photos act as a temporary reference for transferring his experience onto paper and to the viewer by drawing it out. Polsky presents two drawings here, one with architecture and function reminiscent of Smack Mellon's own past; the other a structure reduced to rubble.
In Kim Beck's work, another utilitarian building is contemplated: the storage shed. Beck draws and redraws, cuts and layers these typically bland structures until they become overwhelming and dizzying. This technique recalls America's own patterns of over-accumulation and consumption. We find we have to transfer our excesses to a no man's land of overabundance, contained in tiny uniform structures that are slowly but persistently taking over the American landscape.
Renee Delores presents a site-specific installation-based drawing that references architectural details of the gallery. She also seeks out the decaying, romantic parts of Dumbo that are slowly disappearing, transferring bits and pieces of it into the space. These create a backdrop for mysterious creatures that lurk in their own shadows.
Remembering patterns from bits of fabric, wallpaper and other domestic details, Rita MacDonald draws upon personal history to create her drawings. For her large-scale wall relief, a pattern evoked from household architectural decorations are applied in plaster directly onto the wall. MacDonald merges the architecture of the new site with her memory of the old, bringing her experience of that site directly to the viewer. Also included are smaller recordings of childhood clothing. These recreations of fabric are drawn at actual size, without color or exaggeration, and focus on the small details that imply the body beneath.
Also working from memory, Conor McGrady strips away details in his large-scale gouache drawings of housing blocks in Northern Ireland, leaving them without visible signs of domestication. These complexes, built with utopian ideals in mind, were redesigned to ensure the containment of an insurgent population. McGrady exposes these buildings for what they are- areas devoid of private space, subject to repeated invasion, search procedures and surveillance. McGrady continues his investigation of hidden violence with three drawings of lonely woods that have witnessed some course of unspeakable events.
Kalika Gorski is interested in the portrayal of women fighters, from fictional legends to real-life insurgents. Gorski presents small drawings of real women fighters, from the IRA to the Zapatistas, as quiet dedications to women all around the world who would live and die for what they believe in. Along with these, Gorski installs a 14-foot wall drawing made of ink washes to commemorate the 60th anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima/Nagasaki that falls in August.
Marina Berio's charcoal fireworks reflect imagery from Gorski's installation. Working from photographic negatives, Berio presents a symbol of celebration whose violent explosions of light allude to destruction and decay. Berio also uses imagery from the road, taking over-familiar roadside shubbery and abstracting into unrecognizable masses, giving one an uneasy feeling of being lost on a dark, lonely highway.