In the past few weeks, Dylan Mortimer, Studios Inc alumni and Susan White, current resident artist, opened exhibitions in the Crossroads District. They’re located at the Haw Contemporary Crossroads Gallery, and the KCAI Crossroads Gallery respectively. In this post, I take an in-depth look at their exhibitions.
The first thing I noticed in Dylan Mortimer’s exhibition Blinded by Grace is that it’s so… blinding. Dylan Mortimer reinforces this theme with his own opinion of the exhibition, “Hopefully like a beautiful blinding light… it hurts to look at, yet you can’t look away.1” A view from the sidewalk in front of Haw Contemporary doesn’t do justice to the robust array of sparkling reds, pinks, greens, purples, and blues against the heavy black backgrounds of the paintings. Once inside you see the scope of the work. Small intimate pieces that feature broken bronchi2, Jordan basketball shoes and healthcare symbols contrast with the large interpretations of Christian altarpieces and mosaics based around Mortimer’s renditions of cells. At the center of the space stands Tree, Broken Tree, a giant rendition of a smaller bronchus tree painting. The bronchus and its broken limbs are covered in an immeasurable amount of bright pink, purple sequins while the inner pulp and sap bleeding out of the bronchial tree are made of lime green sequins.
To understand Blinded By Grace you need to understand the life of Dylan Mortimer. Dylan Mortimer lives with Cystic Fibrosis, a disease that builds up mucus in the lungs and eventually leads to death. Mortimer’s work centers around the qualms of an artist’s life, finding inspiration, joy, and fulfillment within their artwork, while always living close to the edge of life. Mortimer finds an equilibrium to this problem by expressing his Christian faith within his work and artistically challenging the disease within him.
Blinded by Grace is open from 8.24.18 to 9.22.18 at Haw Contemporary Crossroads Gallery.
“Wow,” was the first thing Sicily Lewis, Studios Inc’s social media intern said as we reached the window front of the KCAI Crossroads Gallery and saw Susan White’s Province of the Surreal.
Susan White’s thorn works play with ideas of structure, cultural themes, the intrinsic symbolism of the thorns. White’s sprawling installation continues that tradition. The window encapsulating two-piece installation is an immense tour de force of Susan’s thorn works. Hundreds of pieces cascade down a white wall in two distinct structures, one blue and one red, like spontaneous columns and flow across the floor and up into the window sill. The two structures are close to each other but rarely interact and touch each other.
In my opinion, this is White’s most political piece. The thorns play with the ideas of structure and symbolize the rooted political system that’s been building gradually and became the dominating, teetering instrument of American culture. Democrats and Republicans, Liberals and Conservatives are represented in the colors, and the lack of interaction between the two columns of thorns represent the burgeoning divide between the two political sides and speaks to the lack of stability within the two-party system. But, interestingly, both sides resemble each other. The only differentiation between the two is the coloration, not the structure, nor the lengths of the columns. Like politics, on the surface level, they’re vastly different, but the intricacies of the thorns, the length, the number, and variety are basically identical, pointing to the reality of the American political system that is spiraling out of control.
Province of the Surreal is open from 8.25.18 to 11.28.18 at the KCAI Crossroads Gallery
Written by A.K. Turner
1. Mortimer Dylan. https://kcai.edu/event/blinded-by-grace-by-dylan-mortimer/. Accessed August 28th, 2018.
2. Tubular branches within the lungs, in this exhibition Mortimer calls them trees.