Abigail Brightwell-Gray’s “conceptual views”

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Whenever art is mentioned in a conversation, Landscape Art is one of the genres thought of first. The form traditionally involves some form of painting or photography that encapsulates a large scenery, occurrence, or stereotypical event that focuses on the concepts of nature, its relationship with humanity, and the outcomes of their interactions. Abigail Brightwell-Gray(our exhibitions management intern) curated the newest studios.gallery exhibition: conceptual views. The show deconstructs, analyzes, and tinkers with landscape art through a contemporary lens.

 

I was excited to see Abigail’s first foray into curating an exhibition and I came away surprised with the deep connections she created through the diverse set of works. The pieces create a contemporary rendition of the genre, rooted in a traditional sense. Prototypical landscapes are spaced between pieces that bend, reinvent, and escape the genre.

For example, Jill Downen’s Upstairs and Quake are small three-dimensional models that are bare, three-windowed rooms with slats of wood or broken concrete as their floors. The two pieces are small enough to fit in both of your hands. The enormity of your size in relation to the miniscule models creates a sense of deviant voyeurism as you view the piece. Interestingly, this is a necessity within the genre. Landscape Pastorals display farmers and field hands toiling away in the fields, while mothers are feeding, watching, or disciplining their children. The pastoral sums up the lives of the average farmer, but also places the viewer in a far, unseen place. Downen’s pieces change the perspective of the viewer into a more intimate, but jarring position.

Other pieces like Patty Carroll’s Tea Party limits the size of the landscape and creates a more intimate and expressive work. Tea Party is a part of Patty Carroll’s series Anonymous Women that focuses on the stereotypical roles of women within the American patriarchal system through a 1950’s era cultural aesthetic. Within the confines of the exhibition, the concept of landscape revolves around the anonymous woman’s world within Carroll’s piece. The woman is forced into the role of housewife/servant/host and centers around the idea that the home is her world, and is her landscape.

conceptual views deconstructs and renews the Landscape Art genre. Brightwell-Gray worked with a diverse set of mediums to question where the genre is headed next. In her eyes, giant, descriptive, and idyllic portrayals of admired or exotic lands are giving way to intimate and expressive portraits based around reality and its complications. She doesn’t seem to be wrong. 

Written by A.K. Turner

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