Last week (Nov. 12-16), a few of us from the RCID program attended “Meanwhile, a few inches apart,” the Clemson University Master of Fine Art thesis exhibition by
Jillian Ludwig, Molly Morin and Elizabeth Snipes.
All three have attended various RCID gatherings in the past, which drew us to the exhibition even more strongly. Though they had planned no uniting theme, the three exhibitions complemented each other quite well.
Jillian works mainly with pencils on paper, meditating on themes of life, death, and rebirth, normality and abnormality, and nature versus culture. On piece in particular drew my attention, “Freud’s Death Organ.” In the center, a knot of internal organs, simultaneously human and plant-like, stares out as though rip[ing through the page itself. Dead dandelions release their seeds just below the organ. On the margins, stems, leaves and flowers rise vertically playing back and forth from mimetic representation to stylized china pattern. Other works play upon gravity. Jillian’s subjects seem at once to drop violently and float above. Though her works often represent the entropic death-drive, the act of representation becomes a kind of negentropic revelry in the eros and life.
In direct contrast to the more traditional media of her colleagues, Molly works with computer modeling programs to create pieces full of symmetry and complexity. The printed pieces look like Technicolor, Spirographic flowers. Others are laser-cut paper works of intricate origami, repeated over and over. The viewer becomes enmeshed in a three dimensional fractal forest. The most interesting of all, however, were those that negotiated two and three dimensional spaces. Traditional origami figures reappear throughout the show, but now their juxtaposition with the computer-generated flowers creates a more organic composition. Swans trade places with benzene rings, hovering above the petals of a swirling computer-generated vortex.
Elizabeth complements the two technological extremes by working with a traditional medium and focusing on technological remediation. She depicts pixilated web-cam images through oil paints. One of her pieces, “Encounter,” features a woman turning back toward what may be an art studio with her hand hovering just a few inches from the web-cam through which we see her. Is she about to turn it off or has she just turned it on? Does she know that we can see her? The interplay of oils and pixels causes the viewer to alternate in an advance and retreat from the picture. Throughout her pictures, we are given the impression that we are looking at a fragment of a larger story, much like Cindy Sherman’s Untitled Film Stills. Her pieces often portray two images simultaneously, one a surveillance-oriented, busy store scene; the other a ghost image flitting across the panel.
Throughout the exhibition, technological differences construct a complex discussion of repetition and difference, nature and culture, self and other. For more information, see the Lee Gallery site and the artists’ website: www.afewinchesapart.com, where you can find information on purchasing their art.
~ Jason Helms