MMAA’s new Project Space in downtown Saint Paul might appear small compared to other Twin Cities art museums, but that doesn’t keep it from showing big, bold work.
Its latest exhibition features the work of three artists who all excel in large, site specific installations, and packs them into the same room.
Christina Chang, MMAA’s Curator of Engagement says Andrea Stanislav, Randy Walker and Liz Miller seemed like a good grouping for a show, especially one that was going to be open for Northern Spark.
There was this gut sense that they would work nicely together. They work in familiar materials, can be big and dominate a gallery, and make statement pieces. They all admired and knew of each others work, but hadn’t shown their work together. I like the interplay of hard and soft – it’s not a one note show where everything matches a little too perfectly. They hang well together, but they also hold their own.
Andrea Stanislav’s “Broken Obelisks” dominates the center of the room, its psychedelic exterior accompanied by a rock guitar soundtrack that ebbs and flows. Stanislav is meditating on fallen empires, and humanity’s inability to create a real utopia for itself. Chang says many visitors have said the work reminds them of Superman’s ‘Fortress of Solitude.’
Randy Walker uses thousands of feet of nylon parachute cord to transform spaces. With “aurora” he takes a hard angled corner of a white room and turns it into the opposite – a penetrable soft curve radiating waves of yellow, orange and blues. The cord vibrates and catches the light, inviting viewers to gaze deeply.
In Liz Miller’s “Sublime Retaliation Scheme” felt and wire is transformed into a sculpture that draws people in, literally. While the colors at first seem cheerful, upon inspection the installation feels menacing, with pattern pieces that evoke bones and other anatomical parts. In her artist statement Miller says the sculpture “allows viewers to become immersed in a situation that alludes to both beauty and violence. The work calls into question the precarious nature of perception, and how easily it can be tampered with, allowing benign forms to take on more sinister implications.”
Christina Chang notes that each of the artists are working with rather commonplace materials – felt, string, and reflective paper.
There’s a certain craft feel to it. That’s also an inspiration behind the show – the blurring of the lines between art and craft. Many artists are borrowing from craft traditions to revitalize their art form, just as craft artists are working more with pure form. This definitely reflect that interest.
String/Felt/Theory runs through July 28 at the MMAA Project Space in Saint Paul.
All images courtesy of the Minnesota Museum of American Art.