May 4-25, 2012
Amber D. Watts
Opening Reception Friday May 4
Art by Damon Hood
Artwork by Amber D. Watts
Artwork by Mykell Gates
STATEMENTS FROM THE ARTISTS:
DAMON HOOD -
The images that I construct are abstract forms that allude to my thoughts about the human body. Many mysterious forces perform roles in the animation of our bodies. This effervescing vibrancy interacts with our surroundings through the utilization of our body. We perform duties, play within settings and locate objects of desire. All the time, our physical nature is subject to surroundings and the situations in which it is positioned. In this respect, I feel like a stranger that is cast in a fractured framework. Within a world that is reliant upon appearances, the body must take many forms. In physical form, I draw comparisons between the nature of the body and the physicality of the artwork.
My process for making the work begins with a selection of materials. While performing this task, I locate materials that reflect sensations of my connectivity with the body. For instance, much of my recent work is composed on paper or cardboard. I'm imagining comparisons between this thin, flexible material and the skin that we wear. Like this lean paper material, our body is fragile. Many of my materials are salvaged from other sources. They are the residue of other projects and other experiences. In this way, they already have content. I've used tape or glue to piece those parts together. As a whole, I draw comparisons between those supports and the physicality of a human being. For instance, the scale of an artwork reflects my interest in a specific kind of attention from the viewer. When the work is relatively tiny and detailed, I imagine an intimate encounter with my audience. If the work is larger than human stature, it will perform a more commanding role. The frame of mind that I wish to convey through the mediums is similar to the countenance that we wear on our faces. There's a role for every expression that we wish to convey. In this way, I expect the medium to work for me the same way that someone might exercise control over their body and mind.
AMBER D. WATTS -
I think about all the people who have ever lived and people who will live in the future- all the spirits that have passed through this world. I wonder if some people get to pass through this place more than once, in different bodies. I think about what it would be like to live in another place and time- in a century and a culture many times removed from my own. Someone lived there and experienced that life. And where are all those people now?
Influenced by these curiosities, both the context of my work and the mediums I use aim at a literal and metaphorical synthesis of things. I combine painting, printmaking, photography, and some sculptural elements in efforts to create harmony between the mediums, so that they fuse together into one. There is a hybridizing of different cultures and creatures, and some non-specific reference to a time period, or an odd combination of time periods. This includes outer space and time that has not yet passed- the future. There are symbols and metaphors that make each work seem like a Rebus, asking to be solved. The paintings are closely related to shrines, in that they are made with love and respect in honor of great people. Each piece functions as a sacred place for the figure to be viewed and admired; and a place for the viewer to have a spiritual experience. The paintings are my attempts to create monuments to life and death over all spans of time.
MYKELL GATES -
In my work I explore the nature of the complex relationship between humans and animals. I am interested in the interworking of the human mind and how our surroundings influence us as individuals. But we are not just individuals, we belong to many groups and communities, one of the largest groups we consider ourselves members of is the human race.
Research on the subject of comparative psychology has largely influenced my work. Comparative psychology focuses on the intertwined lives of humans and animals since the beginning of man. In the beginning, humans had some obvious traits in common with animals, as our culture evolved, the gap between us seems to have widened. My interest resides not only in our differences but also in our similarities. I am interested in the contrast between commonplace, everyday human-animal interaction and the remote connection humans have with “exotic” animals. I view these interactions in an abstract manner, considering the love, tension, destruction, and inescapable connectedness between all beings that reside here on earth.
Often, I use a mixed media approach in my creative work. The materials generally consist of canvas, acrylic paint, and fabric. I use these varied medias to create layers, which are symbolic of the different layers that make up the relationship between humans and animals. I draw information from many sources. Mythology, fairytales, photographic images, personal experiences, novels and visual culture all contribute. When reflecting on such topics, fragmented versions of the reality are recounted. My paintings are a sort of representation of this fragmented information. I reference photographs displaying various periods of time, locations, and subject matter when contemplating my compositions.
Melding different elements from the very different photographs helps me to create an environment and situation, which is unique. The nature of the relationship between humans and animals is complex and not always clear, sometimes it is imagined. In my paintings, I create unusual environments where humans and animals interact, yet the nature of the interaction is complicated and confusing, I see this as the reality of the present day and age. In general, are we hurting animals or are we helping them? This is a valid question that people may ask themselves. The work seeks to ask questions rather than answer them.