On and Off / Off and On (The Wall)
January 9 - January 27, 2017
Opening Artist Reception
Friday, January 13, 5:00 p.m. - 8:00 p.m.
Monday - Friday: 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
Saturday: 10:00 a.m. - 2:00 p.m.
The UC Blue Ash Art Gallery has free admission and is open to the public
An Introduction to On and Off / Off and On (The Wall)
By H. Michael Sanders
This is one of the rare cases in our curatorial decision-making in which the physical forms of the work, and the structural implications inherent within these physical forms, have served as the adhesive to bind together seemingly disparate works into a conceptual framework for an exhibition. All three of the artists included in this show, Rachel Abrams, Monika Meler and Rachel Singel, are deeply concerned with a pervasive and palpable sense of organic, naturally occurring structures. In conjunction with this concern they each focus on the malleable processes of physical growth, the fragility of human observation, and the fog of human memory.
The title, On and Off – Off and On, derives from the fact that this exhibition plays with the conventions of the gallery space as flat, vertical surfaces for the presentation of two-dimensional work, or as an empty cube of spatial containment for three-dimensional work. The diverse collection of artworks in this show certainly clings to the walls of the gallery, but it also dramatically erupts like new forms of life from the walls to inhabit physical space. In the process it permits the inspirational forms of the natural world lurking behind them to assertively assume their original three-dimensional characteristics. This organic, living transformation continues with work that literally cascades off the wall onto other gallery surfaces to suggest the many ways in which the physical world grows of its own volition into whatever it ultimately becomes.
Certainly the physical form that an artwork takes is central to its impact on our senses and ultimately our understanding of it as a meaningful manifestation of human activity. While the content of these works vary widely, ranging from the human assault on nature, the nature of memory, and sensuous responses to natural world, all of these works assume their symbolic rhetoric from the simple physical forms in which they become manifest.
Embarking from inspirational sources lodged in the natural world, Rachel Abrams’ finely crafted work is energetically organic and actively articulates through physical space in the beautifully indeterminate manner of natural growth. Her work is conception aroused to life in surprisingly delicate and fragile forms – conceptions that project the animating breath of life itself. Her forms function like the tentative and twisting growth of persistent dreams bursting from sleep into the space of the physical world.
In a similar process inspired by memories of human-built structures and woven fabrics, Monika Meler provokes her intricate network of flat, interwoven shapes to molt into three-dimensional forms in an organic manner. These objects have simultaneously merged with the milky residue of memory and the blood of creatures with exoskeletons to grow into organic configurations that define themselves without our intervention, and which blithely offer themselves as porous containment vessels for our personal reflections.
In Rachel Singel’s work, a persistent fascination with apertures coalesces into a labyrinth network of stylized patterns that emanate from the natural forms inspiring her art. These linear patterns support and contain the physical weight of our visual impressions. The negative spaces are indeed a source of weight that draw the viewer in, permitting us to visually sink into the image, while an illusory three-dimensional quality simultaneously projects from the beautiful textures of finely wrought lines floating off the surface of the print.
All of these works actively move beyond the expected habitat of the gallery wall onto other surfaces and spaces in the physical environment of the gallery, as well as into a multitude of perceptual surfaces and mental spaces that we provide for them to occupy. The work radiates externally and internally with the soft light of perceptual memory and the vibrant echo of the forms that inspired them.
Rachel B. Abrams
The works included in this exhibition are from my Distorted Senses of Proportion series, a modified phrase from Rachel Carson’s Silent Spring (1962). The work addresses our environmental actions and the ensuing consequences of those actions. “Future historians may well be amazed by our distorted sense of proportion. How could intelligent beings seek to control a few unwanted species by a method that contaminated the entire environment and brought the threat of disease and death even to their own kind?”
Action and consequence are addressed through focus on endemic versus nonnative flora and fauna, invasive species, species introduced introduce for their visual beauty, and those posing a danger to the ecological balance of the future. We unconsciously live in constructed moments of beauty without considering the consequences in the future to both the micro- and macro-environments. The environmental conservation research projects in which I participate expand my work as an artist, but also enable me to find a specific and personal way to affect change.
About the Artist
Rachel B. Abrams lives and works in Brooklyn, New York. She received her BFA from the University of Wisconsin-Madison in 1997 and her MFA in Glassworking from Alfred University in 2000. She exhibits regularly throughout the United States and has been awarded residencies at Vermont Studio Center in Johnson, VT; Assilah Forum Foundation, Assilah, Morocco; Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, France; and Custom House Studios, County Mayo, Ireland. Her work can be found in private and corporate collections, both nationally and internationally.
Work Included in Exhibition
- Allowable Residues, cast recycled paper and plastic, 2.5” x 2.75” x 2.75" installation dimensions vary (2013)
- Allowable Residues (Ancient Trapped Seas), wood, plastic and paraffin, (piece 1) 8.3” x 5” x 2” (piece 2) 6.6” x 4” x 2" (piece 3) 6.5” x 7” x 1.75” installation dimensions vary (2013)
- Frustrules, foam and metal, installation dimensions vary (2011-2013)
- Tolerances I & II, Glass, copper wire and plastic, 3.5” x 17” x 15” and 4.5” x 23” x 28” installation dimensions vary (2012)
- Untitled (Ancient Trapped Seas XVIII.V), paper, 5” x 7” (2015)
- Untitled (Ancient Trapped Seas XVIII.II), paper, 5” x 7” (2015)
- Untitled (Allowable Residues VI), paper collage on matteboard), 6.25” x 8.25” (2013)
- Untitled (Allowable Residues IV), paper collage on matteboard), 12” x 17.63” (2013)
This work in this exhibit features prints and paper-cuts that examine the fragility of memory. As an immigrant from Poland, I am interested in the process of retaining memory, how it changes over time, and how every time we remember something, it becomes less like the actual thing and more like the last memory we experienced. The images that I use in my work are references to the objects, structures, and events that have woven this immigrant journey that I have experienced, including my father’s gardens, my mother’s rich textiles, and the architecture of Chicago, the city my family and I lived in after leaving Poland. Most recently, I have referenced the spaces and places of the vast American wilderness that have stood out on my journey to settling in California. Images in the prints repeat, change direction, and dominance. All of these actions mimic the actions of memory.
About the Artist
Monika Meler earned her BFA from Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, an MA from Purdue University, and an MFA from the Tyler School of Art at Temple University. She is currently associate professor of art at University of the Pacific in Stockton, California. She has completed residencies at A.I.R Studio in Paducah, Kentucky, Kala Art Institute in Berkeley, Emmanuel College in Boston, Center for Contemporary Printmaking in Connecticut, Frans Masereel Center in Belgium, Cork Printmakers in Ireland, and Women’s Studio Workshop in New York. She has exhibited widely across the USA and internationally.
Work Included in Exhibition
- The Building as Language, diffused relief print, 18” x 24” (2016)
- The Center That Cannot Hold II, relief print, paint and hand-cut paper, 37” x 36” installation dimensions vary (2016)
- Piecing Together, relief print on paper handmade by Kerri Kushman, 22” x 30” (2016)
- The Sun Rises, diffused relief print, paint and hand-cut paper, 37” x 36” (2016)
- Watch the Wind Blow Down and the Grass Rise, print with ink, paint and hand-cut paper, 32” x 37” installation dimensions vary (2016)
My imagery comes from what I see in nature. From a hollow in a tree to a break in the clouds, absence is a recurring motif. These spaces intrigue me, and I begin to wonder where they might lead. The work is my response to the intricacies and depth of natural forms. Ultimately, I want to observe the processes of nature and embody them in my own works of art.
Lines are the building block of my world. The printmaking process allows for a technical consideration of how these lines are distributed throughout the work, with the weight of each line relating directly to how much time it etches. Their physical qualities carry weight; they do not descend into the paper but protrude from the surface.
The types of line derive from both images and my own invention. The lines change direction constantly—contracting and splitting apart to exaggerate the impression of growth. Lines develop into curves, from curves to semi-circles, and from semi-circles to the full circle. This stylistic tendency comes from my interest in openings in nature—those places around which nature’s complex forms develop. Close studies of natural objects reveal holes in their surfaces. The space is a source of weight—a fulcrum point that seizes my attention by giving the illusion of an even deeper space, seeming to recede to infinity. The lines radiate out from these seeming voids—the starting points for infinite variation within the work.
About the Artist
Rachel Singel is an Assistant Professor at University of Louisville. She received an MFA in Printmaking from the University Iowa. Rachel has participated in residencies at Penland School of Crafts, Venice Printmaking Studio, and Scuola Internazionale di Grafica.
Work Included in Exhibition
- Bones, intaglio print on handmade gampi paper,28” x 37” (2013)
- Eggs, intaglio print on mulberry paper, 21.5” x 32” (2013)
- Seaweed, intaglio print on mulberry paper, 24” x 36” (2013)
- Seed Explosion, intaglio print on mulberry paper, 15” x 16” (2015)
- Seed Pods, intaglio print on mulberry paper, 23” x 35” (2015)
- Stones, intaglio print on handmade gampi paper, 17” x 19” (2015)
- Stone Tower, intaglio print on mulberry paper, 24” x 36” (2013)
The UC Blue Ash Art Gallery is supported by the Office of the Dean and the departments of Art & Visual Communication and Electronic Media Communications. This exhibition is curated by H. Michael Sanders and John Wolfer. Gallery publications are edited by H. Michael Sanders and designed by Michael Ziepfel. John Wolfer is gallery director.