Feature Articles
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November Issue 2010

701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, SC, Features Works Mike Lavine

701 Center for Contemporary Art in Columbia, SC, is presenting the exhibit, Mike Lavine: Echoes, an exhibition of wood-based art by Mike Lavine, Associate Professor of Fine Arts at Winthrop University in Rock Hill, SC, on view through Dec. 12, 2010. Lavine also has been artist-in-residence at 701 CCA since Sept. 24.

With the 701 CCA exhibition Echoes, Lavine provides a sampling of his art of the past two decades. Through his eye-popping, site-specific installation Precious 020, made of colorful, small, tropical hardwood shavings shaped as mounds, waves, depressions, lines and flat expanses, Lavine comments on our paradoxical relationship with nature while providing a sensual and meditative experience. Through selections from his 1990s Dry Water series and Desert Series, he addresses his experiences in the American Southwest, where Lavine lived until the late 1980s. Conceived as abstract representations of the desert environment, the two series also refer to human interaction with the natural world.

Lavine, who earned a master of fine arts degree in wood from Arizona State University, teaches three-dimensional design and special topics classes at Winthrop. He joined the university's faculty in 1989. His work has been exhibited nationally, and he has received numerous grants and awards, including a South Carolina Artist Fellowship. Lavine was represented in the 2004 SC Triennial exhibition at the State Museum. Noted critic and curator Michael Monroe has described him "as simultaneously overturning tradition while joining it."

Precious 020 was built by Lavine on site in the 701 CCA gallery, using hardwood shavings selected for their place of origin and their intense and unexpected natural colors. As with Lavine's previous Precious installations, the wood surfaces oxidized during the installation process - and will continue to do so during the exhibition - as they are exposed to ultraviolet light, which changes the intensity and value of the colors.

"When first encountered," Lavine says, "the shavings are not perceived as wood. Even after you discover what the substance is, its form and colors challenge our assumptions and expectations. Unmodified and unprotected by a finish, the hardwoods have no barrier between themselves and the viewers. As the wood is freed from its traditional physical configurations, our ideas about it become fluid, allowing for the exploration of new forms and associations."

For his objects in the Dry Water series and Desert Series, Lavine chose woods for their bland, unassuming grain pattern and pale colors, evoking a desert's dry, bleached sensibility as well as the dry bones one might encounter there. "Although the desert often calls to mind a barren landscape," Lavine says, "that is a misconception. Vegetation may be sparse in certain areas, but in others it is thick with native plants. Indeed, the traveler must find his way through the desert 'forest' and tread carefully so as not to be impaled by the protective spiky forms that protrude from the indigenous flora."

For further information check our SC Institutional Gallery listings, call the gallery at 803/238-2351 or visit (www.701cca.org).


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