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Making Sense of Daily Life: Materials vs. Time and Space

Making Sense of Daily Life: Materials vs. Time and Space

By Susan Ren | B-More Art| August 4th

Young Blood 2014, the 7th annual student show held by the Maryland Art Place, exhibits the work of six recent MFA graduates in the Baltimore area, who explore how such intangible aspects of time, experience, memory, and interaction can be explained or changed with objects and aspects found in daily life. The collection of work is both conceptually intriguing as well as compositionally sound. Showcasing the innovating directions taken by rising artists to communicate through their craft, the exhibition ranges from more traditional works of drawings and paintings to experimental video and sculpture.

Claire Girodie’s appropriately titled miniature sculptures from her Resonant Whisper series, quietly tell faint stories to the viewer in passing – not with words, but with subtle imagery.  The work’s small scale encourages a closer and more intimate viewing experience, softly enticing the observer to admire its simplicity.  Crafted uniquely with traditional and delicate materials, each piece seems to evoke landscapes and familiar but unidentifiable figures from an old memory.  Girodie has created an imaginative means to communicate.  The fluent arrangement of materials surrounded by vast white space thoroughly depicts a “visual whisper.”

Dominique Zeltzman demonstrates inventive methods to address the cyclic and imprisoning nature of daily rituals in relation to objectification and power.  Her imagery is strategically composed to uncomfortably “trap” her figure, revealing apparent items and symbols of femininity.  Footage of her performing versions of mundane domestic chores is played on loop as if the television took control, alluding to the pressures created by politics and media to remain categorized by society’s constructed gender roles.  In her newest piece Radical Home, videography, performance, and installation are cleverly merged in a timeline of still movements, creating an arrangement that allows the observer to dictate her actions – the task she performs is contingent upon which segment they choose to view.  In these intelligent layers of action, time, space, and representation, Zeltzman unmistakably raises questions about societal containment.

Justin Hoekstra seeks to examine the cyclical and paradoxical nature of human existence in his abstract paintings that juxtapose different textures.  His reference to the cycling of time is apparent, yet holds some ambiguity in its relation to a particularly human experience, as his textures seem to also evoke geological processes.  The multiple layers of paint and erosion that mimic mechanisms of natural decay is an insightful means to reveal the chronology of his brushstrokes, allowing sections of the past and present to be visible, while their beginnings and ends remain indistinguishable.  Though not an unprecedented stylistic breakthrough, his aesthetic is captivating and intricate across his body of work.

In the more literal paintings of Caleb Kortokrax, his exchange of time with various people, locations, and objects is documented as a still-frame image of one particular moment.  Aside the other work being exhibited, this series stands out as being reminiscent of basic still life drawing or painting due to a lack of distinctive meaning.  A definite style is present however, and the usage of materials is engaging, as working from observation allows Kortokrax to further extend his interactive process to the untraditional tools he uses to paint.  His materials are indeed a notable part of his personal experience, but in the end the observer essentially sees an advanced version of painting from the environment.

Jim Leach humorously alters and misuses readymade items to intervene with the traditional language of form, function, and representation.  His seemingly random combination of objects is in turn actually very strategic and adept.  Within the sculpture, each object’s interaction with another determines its placement in the composition, while the entirety of each sculpture evokes new forms of machinery.  Plastic Mother, for instance, is a wittingly constructed nonhuman presence that feels feminine, as if a robotic figure replaced the human.  In his monolith-like and “pile of stuff” sculptures, Leach intuitively denies our preconditioned expectations for each readymade object.

Also looking to interfere with the language of function, Nick Primo purposely does not form three-dimensional shapes in his drawings, though they appear as if they should be simple perspective drawings at first glance.  He presents a form of disorder that in turn reads as orderly – a paradoxical equilibrium found across all his work.  His sculptures too, are designed to be useless, though unlike those of Leach, his arrangement of items is much more subtle and peaceful.  The sculptures allude to, but still inappropriately use concepts related to function such as balance and symmetry, creating an abstract structure that is visually poetic and imaginative.

In a society where popular culture and media heavily influences basic human standards and conventions, it is important to stay grounded and continue to think independently and innovatively.  The artists in Young Blood critique the nature of human interaction and experience, demonstrating varying but outstanding levels of inventiveness in their efforts to break the boundaries of traditional media and reinvent visual communication.

Light-Centric Art Exhibit On Display At BWI

Light-centric art exhibit on display at BWI
'Light Touch' exhibit at international terminal through June 21

By Kim Dacey | WBAL TV11 | April 9

LINTHICUM, Md. —Most art lovers go to museums to see exhibits, but travelers headed through BWI Thurgood Marshall International Airport can now see some, too.

Beautiful photographs have been professionally arranged on a wall inside the airport's international terminal. The exhibit is called "Light Touch."

"It's a photographic exhibition that is centered around light and photography, both man-made and natural light, as you can see when you look at the exhibition. A lot of the artists are using natural light, but others are kind of incorporating man-made light," said Amy Cavanaugh Royce of the Maryland Art Place.

The exhibit's space is reserved for rotating art displays. Light Touch opened last month as part of BWI's art, architectural enhancements and exhibitions program.

"It provides a real sense of place. We like to include art examples from artists throughout the region -- Baltimore and Washington, as well as international creations," said BWI spokesman Jonathan Dean.

The Light Touch exhibit was created by the Maryland Art Place and is from a mix of local and international artists. The natural light in the space makes it perfect for that particular display.

"As you look at the photography throughout the day, as the light changes, so does the photography. The mood of the photography changes. So, it's almost the ideal location for a show like this," Royce said.

She said such a high-trafficked area is great exposure for the artists, but she hopes it will provide weary travelers a bit of respite.

"I just hope that they enjoy the beauty of the work because a lot of the work is absolutely stunning. Maybe it will take them somewhere for a few minutes and then they can get back to their day, but everyone needs a little peace in their lives and a little moment to themselves. I think this show kind of offers that to travelers," Royce said.

The exhibit will be on display in the international terminal through June 21.

Read more:

Light Touch: Maryland Art Place show at BWI...

Light Touch

Maryland Art Place show at BWI presents an appropriately international group of artists

By Michael Farley | City Paper | March 18, 2014 

Photographic images of landscapes—billboards, postcards, banners welcoming you to somewhere—are so ubiquitous in airports that it’s easy to filter them out like TSA announcements or boarding calls for a destination that isn’t yours. The airport is the ultimate non-place; its entire identity is the potential of being somewhere else, making the airport a challenging but fertile site for a photography exhibition about location and the subtle ways light can describe it.

Light Touch, a Maryland Art Place satellite show at the International Pier of BWI, presents an appropriately international group of artists curated by British photography scholar Liz Wells. The work is cleverly hung to bookend the exhibition with photographs that deviate the most drastically from the safe conventions of airport decor. On the right, D.C.-based Frank Hallam Day’s RV Night series surreptitiously documents Florida campsites in the dark, questioning the privacy of those who think they’ve escaped the prying eyes of civilization. The prints have a painterly quality owing to their 44-inch-by-66-inch scale, matte finish, surreally limited palette, and spotlight-induced chiaroscuro. The effect is evocative of 19th-century sublime landscapes bred with the creepy tropical voyeurism of Gauguin. Although the images seem like meticulously staged tableaus, the artist swears they are not, upping the creepy factor considerably.

At the other end of the exhibit, Heidi Morstang’s series, The Road North, serves as a foil to Day’s work in every possible way. Far from dramatic, Morstang’s photos of the Arctic are so subtle that from a distance they look like unexposed photo paper. Here, the viewer is the one blinded in the headlights. The photos allude to spatial depth but, devoid of landmarks and directional light, give no indication of the space’s topography. The disorienting nature of the “landscapes” is compounded by their square format; even the medium itself refuses to disclose up from down. A faint shadow could describe overlapping clouds in an all-white sky or tease at the idea of a horizon line forever out of reach.

The majority of practices in Light Touch, although dialoguing conceptually, speak such different visual languages they’re like castaways from photography’s Tower of Babel. Grounded into awkward clumps beneath the airport’s improbably high, anonymous ceilings, the group show is composed of refreshingly idiosyncratic work that’s seemingly curated against the generic space around it.

Marja Pirilä, a Finland-based photographer, literally penetrates institutional space with images of the outside through a camera obscura (a centuries-old technique to project an inverted image through a tiny lens into a dark room). Pirilä’s Speaking House series injects various rooms in a dilapidated mental hospital with scenery from the other side of its walls. She documents the superimposed images with long exposures, giving the photos a dreamlike yet hyper-detailed quality that a Photoshop or video effect couldn’t quite reproduce. In one photograph, trees seem to hang from the ceiling of a dingy room, growing toward the blue sky and linoleum floor below them. In another, a lonely chair faces the wall of a windowless cell, transformed into an upside-down pastoral scene. The work hints at madness but also the terror of confinement in hermetic, authoritative space. One can’t help but relate them to the feeling of powerlessness one feels being detained and poked and prodded at security checkpoints. Sometimes, when stuck in what feels like a mall with armed guards, an image of the outside world can be reassuring, even if it is just a billboard.

MAP, BWI and "Light Touch"

MAP, BWI and "Light Touch"  
Maryland Morning with Sheilah Kast

By JAMYLA KAY AND TOM HALL | WYPR 88.1 | March 5th, 2014

Tom Hall visits a new exhibit at Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) that highlights the work of local and international artists who photograph places and objects which appear mostly on the ground.

The exhibit is titled Light Touch and until June 22, 2014 you can stroll along the International Pier at BWI and view the work of five artists who according to MAP (Maryland Art Place) "use photography to explore aspects of the physical world." MAP is sponsoring the exhibit. 

In this interview recorded at BWI, Tom Hall speaks with MAP executive director Amy Cavanaugh Royce and Light Touch curator Liz Wells.  There is a public reception for Light Touch Wednes day March 5th from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. The Society of Photographic Education Conference 2014, that was mentioned in the interview, takes place at the Hilton Baltimore from March 6 through March 9. This is the 51st year of the conference.

Click here to listen to the interview.

Light up to Light Touch

Light up to Light Touch

By Diana Murray Watts | French Culture | February 4, 2014 

In a world where the power of an image has great resonance, Light Touch presents an alternative way to rethink photography and light. Departing from the premise that light is virtually omnipresent, the work of five artists is brought together to showcase their explorations on this element and its presence in the physical world.

Chrystel Lebas (France-UK), Heidi Morstang (UK), Marja Pirila (Finland), Lynn Silverman (Baltimore), and Frank Hallam Day (Washington, DC) are present in this exhibition organized by Maryland Art Place (MAP), curated by Liz Wells and produced in partnership with The Society of Photographic Education Conference 2014 (Baltimore City), and the Baltimore Washington International (BWI) Airport.

Instead of a museum, gallery or other typical exhibition space, Light Touch is on display at the International Pier of the Baltimore Washington International Airport. The exhibition premieres on February 12th and will last through June 22 of this year, with the official inauguration ceremony held on March 5th. The Cultural Service of the Embassy of France has provided full support to Light Touch, as have EDF and Frame Visual Art, Finland.

Amy Cavanaugh Royce, Executive Director for MAP, and Chystel Lebas, the French artist included in this exhibition, spoke to the Cultural Service in regard to Light Touch and their own perspectives on art today.

With an academic background in music and classically trained cellist, Cavanaugh Royce recalls that she “grew up in a family of visual artists; therefore, I have always had a deep respect and appreciation for the visual arts.” At the forefront of MAP since January 2012, Cavanaugh Royce would like to encourage dialogue in contemporary art on an international-local level. In this respect, says Cavanaugh Royce, “producing Light Touch at the BWI Airport is a great start.

This is, however, not the first time that Chrystel Lebas has had a show at an airport. She tells us that her work Blue Hour was exhibited in the BMI business lounge of the Heathrow-London Airport and was curated by Artwise. “I find this particular space [an airport] interesting and challenging at the same time. It is a place of transitions and passage in time. Travelers do not choose to stay and linger in the waiting rooms, however, the gallery space within an airport offers a place of wonder and discovery that will surely bring another dimension to the idea of travelling,” explains Lebas.

Upon receiving her baccalaureate from the École Estienne in Paris and receiving her diploma from the ENSAAMA – Olivier de Serres (École Nationale Supérieure des Arts Appliqués et des Métiers d’Art – Design), in addition to her spending a year at the Beaux-Arts in Paris, Lebas began to use photography as a medium. There was, however, a turning point in her career, which was obtaining a scholarship from the French education ministry to study in Krakow Academy of Fine Arts in Poland. “This is where I truly discovered photography and how I could use it to record the passing of time, especially during such transitional period in 1989 and the repercussions that were felt on Eastern Europe after the fall of the Berlin Wall,” shares Lebas.

Back in France, Lebas explains, “I had the chance to meet the right people at the right time guiding me through the art world. The Master in Photography at the Royal College of Art in London was another defining encounter with a wider photograph community, were I could immerse myself in debates around the subjects and wider issues on photography.”

The exhibited works of Chrystel Lebas in Light Touch were made in response to the Domaine of Bel-Val, in the Ardennes region of France and is affiliated with the Musée de la Chasse et de la Nature in Paris, a center dedicated to learning and exploring nature surrounded by free-roaming animals. “I focused on one view that I studied at a variation of times and seasons", describes Lebas. “I was looking at a landscape that was barely changing, yet the variation was in the expectations and observations of a landscape charged with a significance relating to the idea of enclosed nature, almost like a man-made nature to serve man’s own purposes.”

Lebas is currently working on a project with the Natural History Museum in London, researching a collection of glass plates, photographs of botany and landscapes around the United Kingdom at the beginning of the 20th century and that belonged to Sir Edward James Salisbury. “I will be re-photographing the landscapes 90 years later”, explains Lebas. “My influence for this project is mainly looking at the use of photography in science and its challenges, as photography in its invention was not an accurate tool yet contributed to ask questions around representation.”

She explains that more than one artist has had an influence on her, and that it would all depend on the time, place and context of the works. “The writings of Gaston Bachelard, however, have always been in the background and have influenced the way that I perceive landscape. I have also been looking extensively at the paintings of Caspar David Friedrich and the ideas around the sublime.”

With 33 years in the art world, MAP is an organization devoted to the presentation, promotion and exposure of contemporary art and artists. They organize between five and seven exhibitions a year, as well as supporting a platform for discussion regarding current contemporary art practices through their Speaker Series. “Baltimore is a city with a great deal of talent that should be shared with the rest of the world,” declares Cavanaugh Royce. “If MAP can create one pinnacle moment that alters an artist’s future for the better, then we have done our job.”

“Baltimore has a vibrant and thriving visual arts community,” continues Cavanaugh Royce, “One could easily say that one of Baltimore’s major attributes is the arts, from the Baltimore Museum of Art to our colleges like MICA and Towson to the cornucopia of small venues producing interesting work throughout the city. I find Baltimore artists and Baltimore venues to be experimental and forward thinking. They take risks. It would be wonderful for Baltimore to be a point of destination for the contemporary visual arts.”

Do not miss the opportunity to see Light Touch at the BWI Airport, whether in transit or just as a visitor. The only baggage needed is the expectation to be surprised.

Our Mission

Maryland Art Place (MAP) inspires, supports, and encourages artistic expression through innovative programming, exhibitions, and educational opportunities while recognizing the powerful impact art can have on our community. MAP creates a dynamic environment for artists of our time to engage the public by nurturing and promoting new ideas. MAP has served as a critical resource for contemporary art in the Mid-Atlantic since 1981.

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