Art review: 'Great Waves II' at Revision Space
The summer show at Lawrenceville's Revision Space, “Great Waves II,” is not only notable because of the blue-chip curators who organized it — Eric Shiner, director of the Andy Warhol Museum, and Chad Alligood, curator of the Crystal Bridges Museum of American Art — but because this tidy exhibit is full of contemplative works by three Pittsburgh-area artists worth noting.
Jamie Earnest explores color and composition with monumental paintings and mixed media, evoking memory and philosophy. She examines domestic and personal space, juxtaposed with the use of industrial materials.
Earnest, a Shadyside resident who is finishing her senior year at Carnegie Mellon University, takes her cue from the many home spaces in she's lived over the course of her life, be they conventional or unconventional.
“My paintings are depictions of interactions of domestic space and objects,” she says.
“I've always been interested in architecture, which then (started) my interest in the uniqueness of one's personal space,” Earnest says. “I find it interesting how domestic spaces vary person to person in terms of decoration, objects and aesthetics, but all function in similar ways.”
For example, for the painting “Sally's Mirror Plant,” she worked from a childhood memory of a house of her mother's friend, who lived lavishly with a lot of plants, antiques and mirrors.
“Essentially, every room in her house looked the same with all of these objects present in each,” she says. “Thus, I combined all of these objects to create one conglomerate domestic picture, physically intertwining these elements to create the one space that all of her rooms actually were.”
For “My Mess,” Earnest pulled memories of objects and spaces from her childhood home, particularly the basement, which flooded quite frequently and was “relatively unpleasing.”
“My mother was always trying to fool herself into thinking it was a usable living space by putting furniture, toys, exercise equipment, etc., that would constantly be ruined time and time again,” Earnest says. “I juxtaposed a clean, inviting color with an isolated mess to depict this living space my mom so wished existed.”
Other works by Earnest incorporate a choice of materials that come from exploring industrial materials found in and around domestic spaces — concrete, wood stain, joint compound — making for a lush display, texturally speaking.
Opposite Earnest's paintings, Haylee Ebersole's work utilizes unorthodox materials, such as gelatin, to create abstract 2-D and 3-D forms, while drawing upon landscape and geological associations, as well as the human body. These fascinating objects possess rebellious qualities, yet are exquisite in their presentation.
Ebersole lives in Wilkinsburg, but recently spent two months in Iceland for an artist residency.
“I think a lot of the work formally has been inspired by my experiences contemplating and handling natural objects within the ever-changing and erratic landscape of northern Iceland,” she says.
Interested in making work that floats between a multitude of forms, textures and associations, Ebersole says that, “while the work is not easily identifiable at first, it unfurls slowly and reveals uncommon connections between materials, landscape and the body.”
For instance, the gelatin sculptures from her “Creep” series often resemble familiar materials, such as plastic sheeting or rawhide, while calling to mind geological fragments or intricate internal bodily structures.
“With the title ‘Creep,' I was thinking about how the materials I use slowly transform over time and how that relates to the ways a particular landscape is always forming and reforming,” Ebersole says. “In a geological sense, the term ‘creep' refers to the slow but significant shifting of sediment over time. I think of this body of work as reflecting a kind of ‘material creep' where once-contained lines ooze with crystalline edges and vaporous gelatin surfaces fluctuate in response to the surrounding environment.”
Finally, Indian-born artist Sarika Goulatia of Swisshelm Park displays new work utilizing discarded, donated and found materials like shopping carts and toys, which are part of larger site-specific sculptures and installations and several related drawings.
Her work is predominantly large-scale sculptures and installations, which, because of space imitations, is limited to a few exemplars here, such as “It Isn't All Black & White.”
Inspired from the floor in her studio space while she was constructing a larger installation piece, “Black & White” features silhouettes of small robot figures she spray painted for the sculpture of the same title located beneath it.
“I loved the somewhat blurry impressions left on the floor,” Goulatia says. “Often, my work has political messages that are sometimes obtuse while, at other times, implied. In these particular works, I was thinking about how we, as Americans, often engage in wars and debase the value of human life. A soldier dead, a bullet fired; guns used become numbers and often lost individual identities.”
While creating her larger sculptural works, Goulatia has been simultaneously working on drawings of those pieces. “My drawings, like my sculptures, are layered and dimensional,” she says. For Revision Space, in particular, she was unable to fit any of her sculptural works through the doorway, so she decided to focus on the drawings.
For example, with “Reminiscences,” Goulatia created negative representations of objects that have touched her life in the past and some that still continue to do so.
“Sometimes, the objects are very literal, and, sometimes, they are conceptual and abstracted,” she says.
For this series, Goulatia did a total of 60 such pigment drawings, of which only a half-dozen are on display here.
The remaining drawings are line drawings on acetate of various components and related to her larger sculptural installations. With these, one gets the overall sense of the studio practice of this remarkable artist.
Kurt Shaw is the art critic for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at [email protected].