WORK IN PROGRESS
This fourth issue of Work in Progress is focused around the idea of perception as both a process and as a subject of representation. Definitively, perception is a process of understanding and interpreting our senses. It is our mind’s way of translating a visual image, action, sound, or sensation into something that we can know, feel, and explain. Simultaneously vast and specific in its application, this cognitive process of recognition and interpretation is what allows us to engage with our surroundings and discern meanings and information from those experiences.
Perception is inherent in our experience of art, and though an obvious and omnipresent component, this issue examines the work of five artists whose work represent multifaceted approaches to thinking about perception as both a topic and factor in their work. Conrad Bakker’s realistic painted sculptures and installations explore the relationships we have with objects and material goods, reproducing everyday objects and challenging our perception of reality. What is our experience viewing and relating to a painted, wooden reproduction of a book, a record, a video game controller, or a motorbike? How can these art objects be both representational of a thing, while also potentially standing in for that very thing? Bakker’s projects blur boundaries between these real and representative things, and allow for a re-evalutation of the distinctive barriers that we place around an object’s value and worth in our lives. This process of recognition is present also in Susan Metrican’s practice, where perception is a subject that underlies the body of her work. Metrican attempts to explore perception and to highlight that gap between viewer and object; the distance between what we sensorily experience and the actual thing itself. Grounding this exploration in narrative and figurative subjects, such as animals or specific sights and sounds, Metrican abstracts her representation and utilizes her materials as a means to highlight this dissonance in perception.
Materials operate similarly in Leeza Meksin’s practice, where site-specific installations, paintings, and mixed-media works experiment with materiality as a means of exploring notions of in-betweenness and our recognition and understanding of constructed binaries. Translation of image, material, form, and space are inherent in her work, and the tensions between these variables are as important as the tension and relationship between the viewer and the work itself. In Caroline Larsen’s paintings, the recognition of material process and the physicality of the paint is delicately balanced with the subject matter and figurative image. Piping out paint and weaving, outlining, dotting, and striping her canvases, Larsen’s depictions of suburban Californian homes, majestic mountain-scapes, and floral arrangements become abstracted pixelations of lush textural paint and vivid colors. How does this thick, gestural, and decorative application of paint affect our reading of the subject, and how does the paint itself, as a material, become a subject of the work itself? This interest in subject matter is significant to Shona McAndrew’s sculptures and paintings. McAndrew’s subject is the female body, specifically the plus-size female body, and her work directly challenges social constructions of its form by creating larger than life paper-maché sculptures of plus-size women in various mundane acts of daily life. These everyday actions highlight the intimacy of self-care and also the banality of bodies in states of undress and privacy. Her sculptures are not objects to be gazed upon, but rather become figures that are representing moments of truth and occupying space in a positive and personal way.
Many thanks to Conrad, Susan, Leeza, Caroline, and Shona for their patience and involvement with this project.
- Sholeh Hajmiragha