Feature Articles

February 2011

Green Hill Center for NC Art in Greensboro, NC, Features Works by Vicki Essig, Heather Gordon, Paul Rousso, and Merrill Shatzman

The Green Hill Center for NC Art in Greensboro, NC, will present the exhibit, Word Maps, featuring works by Vicki Essig, Heather Gordon, Paul Rousso, and Merrill Shatzman, on view from Feb. 3 through Apr. 1, 2012. A reception will be held on Feb. 3, from 5:30-7:30pm.

The exhibition presents four artists whose work investigates relationships between printed texts and our contemporary visual environment. Through a variety of mediums including collage, weaving, printing and drawing, these artists create a system of symbols, icons, and readable and undecipherable written forms that may be read as a map to be decoded through imaginative interpretation.

Vicki Essig’s woven constructions, Heather Gordon’s multi-media paintings, Paul Rousso’s monumental collages and Merrill Shatzman’s woodcuts, silkscreens and artist books all create new pictorial spaces from letterforms and texts. Words and letters may be read as language but are simultaneously seen as pattern and artifact evoking associations with maps, charts and nature.

The artists selected for Word Maps present viewers with four different approaches to the association of visual art and language that has been one of the central practices in the history of art from the Dadaists on. This four person exhibition investigates the continuing interest by contemporary artists with associating other mediums with printed texts. At a moment when the book, as the most widely used medium for transmitting language and written texts, is in the process of transformation, these artists deconstruct and reinvent books. These artists reflect an ongoing interest and inspiration of relationships between written/patterned forms in their work.

Vicki Essig’s (Asheville, NC) intimate woven works use a small book page as a matrix. The artist’s use of fragile natural materials (pine needles, feathers) attached to semi-transparent silk into which individual lines of text cut out from a 19th century memoirs are interwoven all contribute to a sense of the ephemeral in her work. Omissions in sentences find their visual correspondence in an empty line of silk webbing which is the same color as the paper. The viewer strives to recreate the text which in its eroded state is more like poetry than prose.

Heather Gordon’s (Durham, NC) drawing and paintings take specific texts as their point of departure. In her “Comparatives” series three texts in a related cultural domain, such as the Gospel of Matthew, Principia Discordia and The Ninety-five Theses of Martin Luther in the work entitled Comparative Religion, are transcribed visually and numerically into a pattern of stamped ink squares. These visual patterns suggest associations and oppositions that question our understanding of language and the influence cultural contexts on meaning.

Paul Rousso’s (Charlotte, NC) large multi-media wall works initially read as painterly abstractions yet are made of hundreds of collaged pages from different corpuses. In certain works the numeration of the pages becoming the organizing principle. Fluctuating pages are organized in vertical columns and the brightly colored zone of the magazine section of “The Sunday Times” erupts in a desert of monochromatic gray. In other works the printed page is handled like paint creating discreet looping lines or dense “all-over” patterning.

Merrill Shatzman’s (Durham, NC) black and white layered wood block prints, colorful silkscreens and new artist books suggest imagery from Islamic, Japanese and Chinese calligraphy as a point of departure. Shatzman reinterprets letterforms utilizing wood cut and digital processes into abstract “glyphs”. These personal alphabet also may reference contemporary writing practices such as “wild style” Graffiti. The resulting works resemble contemporary artifacts in which words to “interweave the domains of philosophy and religion... and humanistic inquiry.” Texts may also be the starting point such as The Inaugural Address Triptych (2009), inspired by Obama’s Inaugural Address on January 21, 2009. Like Essig and Rousso, the resulting works resemble contemporary artifacts in which words “interweave the domains of philosophy and religion... and humanistic inquiry” into multi-media works.

In conjunction with Word Maps, the Green Hill Center for NC Art will offer the following Artist Talks:

On Feb. 15, 2012, from 5:30 – 6:30pm - Heather Gordon. On Feb. 29, 2012, from 5:30 – 6:30pm - Vicki Essig. On Mar. 7, 2012, from 5:30-6:30pm - Merrill Shatzman. On Mar. 21, 2012, from 5:30-6:30pm - Paul Rousso. The events are free and open to the public.

For further information check our NC Institutional Gallery listings, call the Center at 336/333-7460 or visit (www.greenhillcenter.org).


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