A chance to investigate “The Unexplored” terrain of the imaginations and choice of media of six “emerging artists” is being offered at MAINSITE Contemporary Art Gallery, 122 E Main, in Norman.
Showing work through Jan. 19 at the Norman Arts Council's gallery, with a reception planned from 6 to 10 p.m. Jan. 11, are Krystle Brewer, Tim Kowalczyk, Cindy Coleman, Amy Coldren, Christie Owen and Zach Burns.
A graduate student at Oklahoma State University, Brewer uses the expressive “body language” of white, ceramic, anonymous figures, most confined within black wooden wall boxes, in her thought-provoking work.
Contorted, open-mouthed figures, seemed to have succumbed to claustrophobia, unable to open their boxes as the viewer can, in Brewer's “Untitled (Box II), hung on the wall, and her “Untitled (Woman I),” displayed on the floor.
The very lack of a closed door makes the gesture of another wide-open mouthed figure, “Pushing Against Nothing,” seem even more ironic, in one of four more, black wall boxes by Brewer.
Brewer's small “figure with an outstretched arm” doesn't need either an open or closed box to make his or her gesture seem futile, while figures in a glass-enclosed collector's case, divided into nine compartments, seemed trapped by the rituals of “Apartment Life.”
A ceramics instructor at Illinois Community College, Kowalczyk said that he explores “the poetic possibilities of fabricated objects” that are “familiar, antiquated, and overlooked.”
Described as “Domestic Astronomy” by Kowalczyk are arrangements of what appear to be real, but are actually stoneware nails, protruding from a wall, and an assortment of old frames in a corner, that look wooden, but are ceramic.
Even more impressive in its “fool-the-eye” qualities is a Kowalczyk installation in which a bad carpenter seems to have stopped “In the Midst” of making frames on a small table that looks wooden, but isn't, leaving pseudo-sawdust and pieces of them on the floor.
More direct, naively appealing and whimsical, are the small, framed, mixed media acrylic collage depictions of animals, adorned with buttons, shells, stamps, bits of text, and even a spoon, by Colorado artist Coleman.
Particularly charming Coleman works include one of a “Silly Old Bear,” rubbing its back on a branch, and another of a large moose, accompanied by a warning to stay at least 25 yards away from it.
Equally positive, accessible and user-friendly are the small, multilayered, labor-intensive, papercut compositions of Oklahoma City-based artist Coldren.
A cutout leaf pattern encircles Coldren's pastel-hued “Joy Runs Deeper Than Despair,” for example. Other Coldren creations suggest cross-sections of geodes or a Rorschach test-like excavation into an “Inkblot” paper canyon.
Edmond artist Owen contributes jewelry and a series of open, globe-like painted metal sculptures, plus several small, square abstract acrylic paintings on bamboo board, and a much larger painting on Masonite, covered with black, tarlike drips.
Burns is an Oklahoma City-based photographer and designer.
Legally blind in his left eye, almost from birth, Burns mimics his lack of depth perception and shares it with viewers in an installation which lets them look at his double black-and-white photos, seen through his version of nineteenth century stereoscopic viewers.
“The Unexplored: Emerging Artists Show” is well worth visiting during the rest of its run at the NAC's gallery.
— John Brandenburg