Thursday, May 20, 2010

Staging Ground

Staging Ground, a group show opened last Friday night, with a crowd of over 150 people. The exhibition will be on view through June 4th. The exhibition features five emerging local artists: Chris Gentile, Denise Kupferschmidt, Christina Leung, Christian Maychack and Jeffrey Tranchell. Each artist’s work documents an intervention or manipulation with plants and landscapes.

Installed on either side of the same wall, Gentile and Maychack represent two different ways of exhibiting plant-based sculptural works. In End Times/Amend Times #1, Gentile chooses to display a photograph of his sculptural creation, a scaffolding structure that has molded a plant into the shape of a reclining figure. Maychack prefers to directly present the product of his experiment in Double Host, a living sculpture that uses magic sculpt, a self-drying epoxy clay, to alter and influence the growth of a Euphorbia tirucalli ( pencil cactus).

Despite photography being their shared medium, neither Kupferschmidt or Leung consider themselves as photographers – it is the sculpture or action within their work that is important. In Windows, Kupferschmidt photographs her sculpture of interconnected wooden triangles at various different locales in Miami. In this way, the sculpture becomes a filter through which we see the landscape. Leung’s works are sculptural actions and interventions with plants and landscapes in suburban Ohio. For Honeysuckle, she cut square holes into the leaves of a Lonicera japonica ( honeysuckle bush), monitoring it over the course of four months (the hardy and invasive plant was mostly unaffected).

The one artist in the show whose work is removed from the natural environment is Tranchell, who has become known for his magazine collages with grocery labels and stickers. Here, he plays with how the landscape is represented and perceived through fashion advertisements, literally putting a price on these idyllic views.

Even though the environment is not the main concern in their works, each artist in Staging Ground challenges and experiments with the natural world, refusing to accept it at face value.

Staging Ground is on view through June 4, 2010.

The Gallery at The Horticultural Society is free and open to the public Monday through Friday, from 12 to 6pm, and by appointment.

Article by Chris Murtha, Curator

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