Wednesday, June 18, 2014

MMAA 2014 MN Biennial Opening!

Here are some pictures from my recent opening at the Minnesota Museum of American Art 2014 Minnesota Biennial!  Check it out!  

The show runs until August 3rd, so go stop by and see it!  
For more information, please visit:

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Hi Zoe,
First, I just want to say congratulations for all your creative works, perseverance, and recent show.
I was taken in viewing Postmodern Tectonics on the floor at the event --- curious if it was a statement re: women’s role/recognition/positioning in the world. Very thought provoking. Bravo, whether or not.
Best always, Great Aunt Pam


Dear Great Aunt Pam,

Yes, you're absolutely right. "Postmodern Tectonics" is a civil rights painting that represents a changing sociopolitical landscape. This piece uses both mapping and fractal geometry as visual metaphors for the uprising of marginalized peoples (women, in particular) within a changing society. Aesthetically, the work combines rigid Cartesian grids (maps) and complex geometric fractals to convey the essence of growth and change.  The carved fractal form spans out across the Cartesian grid like a growing shockwave, connecting all of the individual blocks in an relativistic fabric of changing design.  Like a society, the blocks work together as a dynamic whole.

The multiple carved levels represent a top-to-bottom hierarchy within the painting's surface.  In a society, this type of hierarchical structure is oppressive and only serves the few who have power at the top of the pyramid.  In order to express societal uprising, I used the illusion of color contrasts in the paint to contradict the literal sculpted surface.  Thus, the fractal "shockwave" is like a ripple of plate tectonics, moving from the ground-up, reversing the existing top-down hierarchy.   Ultimately, the piece captures the impetus of an uprising, showing all of the visual components of change occurring within an unequal society.

The color choices were very deliberate.  The fluorescent orange represents the fiery movement underneath the surface - like magma, it is a flow that pushes and pulls at the surface, evoking the passionate unrest and turbulence within the piece.  The white is like a powerful light-force, harmonizing the physically separated blocks into an expanse of love and togetherness.  The very subtle green and peach tints create figure-ground contrasts that optically contradict the uneven surface and level the landscape into the appearance of flatness.  For me, the sense of flatness represents a state of equality between different bodies.  Through love and togetherness, the lower blocks ascend to a higher hierarchical plane.  The overall "pinkness" of the piece can be read as femininity and the perseverance of womankind.

In my senior thesis (linked bellow), I discuss the historical context that lead to my painting's development: and essentially, the work fights the patriarchal mode of modern painting that dominated the Western world from the end of the Victorian era, all the way through to the 1960s.

My work follows in the footsteps of the postmodern neo-avant-garde movement, challenging the dogmatic expectation that all paintings must be hung on walls to achieve a state of objective truth.  By presenting "Postmodern Tectonics" on the floor, I wanted to allow the viewer to engage differently with the painting's surface... As both a female and feminist painter, I am also very sensitive to the way paintings are presented and how they create a power dynamic between the viewer and the artist.  I didn't want to force myself onto the viewer with self-righteous notions of perception and experience, like many machismo-modernists did with their large canvases and gestural bravado.

Instead, I wanted to provide the viewer an opportunity to use their bodily subjectivity to investigate the work in an intersubjective act of sharing.   As the viewer surveys the aerial landscape, they discover the shifting surfaces moving in and out of illusionistic, sculptural and architectural spaces.  The viewer's body literally becomes a part of the work, empathetically including them in the experience of growth and change.

My only regret is that I did not cite enough women artists in my senior thesis.  I primarily blame myself for not being more thorough.  But secondly, I blame my educational institution for not exposing me to more female painters in my art history courses.  Currently, I am making an extended effort to dig up women who resonate with my artistic practice.  Thankfully, I have already found a few, but even with an art history background, I will say - it is difficult to unearth those gems who have been deliberately buried by patriarchy.



Here is some press for the show from The Star Tribune and MPR's The Current!