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Artist’s ‘Waterfall Vision’ exhibition explores ‘earth body and human body relationship’ | TribLIVE.com
Art & Museums

Artist’s ‘Waterfall Vision’ exhibition explores ‘earth body and human body relationship’

Tribune-Review
| Wednesday, April 6, 2016 4:24 p.m
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Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
Jennifer Nagle Myers the artist of whose work of drawings, paintings, installation and performance are displayed at 707 Penn Gallery in Downtown Pittsburgh n Friday, April, 2016.
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Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
'My Body Turned Hard and Then It Sunk' by Jennifer Nagle Myers from the “Waterfall Vision' show of featured works inspired by the human body in relationship to the earth body at 707 Penn Gallery in downtown Pittsburgh.
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Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
“Pittsburgh, Most Livable City for Who?” by Jennifer Nagle Myers from the “Waterfall Vision' show of featured works inspired by the human body in relationship to the earth body at 707 Penn Gallery in downtown Pittsburgh.
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Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
“Everything That Is Possible Is Possible Right Now” by Jennifer Nagle Myers from the “Waterfall Vision' show of featured works inspired by the human body in relationship to the earth body at 707 Penn Gallery in downtown Pittsburgh.
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Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
“Waterfall Vision” by Jennifer Nagle Myers from the “Waterfall Vision' show of featured works inspired by the human body in relationship to the earth body at 707 Penn Gallery in Downtown Pittsburgh n Friday, April, 2016.
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Sidney Davis | Tribune-Review
“There Used To Be A River” by Jennifer Nagle Myers from the “Waterfall Vision' show of featured works inspired by the human body in relationship to the earth body at 707 Penn Gallery in Downtown Pittsburgh n Friday, April, 2016.

At 707 Penn Gallery, Downtown, Jennifer Nagle Myers’ solo exhibition “Waterfall Vision” is an ambitious showing worth seeking out before it closes April 10.

Myers, who lives in Polish Hill, works within a variety of approaches: photography, sculpture, video, performance, installation and mark-making, whether it be with drawing or painting. “Each material has its own necessity and urgency, and I require them all as tools for expression,” she says. And as viewers will see in this small, but comprehensive exhibition, each has its own use, its own language, its own requirements.

For example, the painted rocks that make up “My Body Turned Hard and Then It Sunk” may look simple enough, but, says Myers, “These were kicking around my studio for years, the product of a failed sculpture.

“It seemed right to finally use them, and they fit in nicely with the theme of this show, which is ‘earth body and human body relationship,’ ” she says. “Here is a representation of the human body on what we can call the earth body (rocks). It also ties into the other work in the show that is painting on slate, again seeing mark-making on a rock surface.”

As Myers so aptly puts it, “Sometimes you need to make something and let it sit around for a long time before it makes sense.”

Thus, she says of the rocks, onto which she has painted nipples, “They represent the fragmentation of the body. Of the female body in particular, as these are breasts.”

As provocative as that piece is, “Pittsburgh, Most Livable City for Who?” might be even more so.

Part of an ongoing series, the work is an ongoing collection of sticks Myers finds that look like guns, which she hangs in some sort of grid formation on the wall.

“This version, I decided to burn the sticks, to turn them into pieces of charcoal,” she says. “This way, they reference the sticks of charcoal I use to draw with in my studio, as well as something that has withstood great intensity.”

Myers says putting them in a fire “seemed right.”

“The reason I collect these gun-sticks is because I am overcome, on a daily basis, with what is happening in America with gun violence and gun laws,” she says. “I am simply overwhelmed by its depth, reach and insanity. The policies that keep us in this stranglehold are — in my opinion — deeply flawed and deeply racist. They create spaces for intense violence to happen on a daily basis in our country, on our streets, and it is absolutely like a civil war in our cities. … For me, it is a way to connect to my depression and sadness around this great struggle.”

Then there is the signature piece of the show, “Waterfall Vision.” Myers says she chose the title for the piece, and this show, because she had been having intense dreams about waking up beneath a waterfall. “It was a recurring dream, incredibly vivid and truly beautiful,” she says.

Comprising dozens of paintings on slate, it literally cascades from the floor to the ceiling. “The whole thing about waterfalls is that they are cascades,” Myers says.

Myers says her studio is very small, so she could work on only about nine pieces of slate at once. “I could not see the whole thing until it was installed in the gallery,” she says. “The cascade was such an exciting template for me and contained so much. Inside this space, I watched as my marks translated the earth body into the human body, again and again, and I saw industrial elements, natural elements, material elements, all mixing together.”

Beyond that piece is “Everything That Is Possible Is Possible Right Now,” which is simply composed of a copper flower pot set atop a coiled rope.

Myers says the coiled rope and vessel function as a placeholder, “not quite art and not quite prop, somewhere in-between,” she says.

“It is there to connect this body of work to the work I am making as a filmmaker right now, which is the other role I play as an artist,” she says.

She is working on “Wild Clarity,” a 30-minute film she is directing and shooting this spring and will take to festivals when completed later this year.

“In it, one of the main characters, the great performer Jasmine Hearn, confronts rope in some capacity in almost every scene we shot with her,” Myers says. “She either carries it, drags it, wears it, wraps it, walks around it, so much that it becomes its own character that she has to constantly interact with.

“Rope is a neutral material, a neutral object, and yet it is so charged it might as well be its own type of energy,” Myers says. “Vessels for me are all about the body. We are vessels, full of water. We are poured into and out of things. We flow. Having water in the space, literally and physically, was also important to me.”

The evening of April 8, Myers will be at the gallery for a performance and talk. The performance will be by Gia T. Cacalano, a Pittsburgh-based choreographer and performer whose work is commissioned all over the world. Cacalano’s performance will respond to the materials in the space, specifically the rope and the vessel of water, through activation and improvisation. It begins at 6 p.m. and will be followed by a question-and-answer session with Myers.

Kurt Shaw is the Tribune-Review art critic. Reach him at tribliving@tribweb.com.

Categories: Museums
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