OPENING RECEPTION: February 3, during First Friday 6–9PM
ARTIST TALK: Saturday, February 11, 2PM
OAKLAND ART MURMUR: Friday, March 3, 6-9PM – Monotype demonstration by Barry Ebner, and small works selection for collection
Humans and nature have a long, often complicated, history. In our earliest days, we used bones as tools and the natural world inspired our earliest forms of artistic expression. Our use and portrayal of nature has changed over time and history — as cave drawings of animals developed into the Italian Renaissance artists’ meticulous investigation of nature, as the nineteenth-century French artists who advocated to paint en pleine air. On the other side of the globe China produced dynasties of paintings by scholars grasping the emotion or atmosphere capturing the rhythm of nature, with contemporary artists working with everything in between. Nature has been a long-standing source of creative and industrial material and of spiritual and artistic inspiration. How humans relate to and portray nature has always been a reflection of specific historical moments. While we have not always been the best stewards of the natural world, our relationship with it has served as a source of artistic inspiration.
Vessel Gallery’s group exhibition Flight, Flock, and Hollow examines how contemporary artists source nature and the life cycle for their work. Often, the portrayal of the life cycle is as direct as Gordon Glasgow’s Inhabit II, a series of nests made of carved walnut and maple, or Irene Imfeld’s photograph of closely assembled eggs, some of which have either hatched or succumbed to the forces of nature, while others are as dark and whimsical as Barry Ebner’s monotypes of skulls. The artistic process itself is a product of chance and intuition, and Cyrus Tilton’s The Hammer and the Nail, in which a bird precariously dangles a hammer over a snail, examines this aspect of the natural world from the artist’s view.
In the digital age, however, it is impossible to explore these themes without addressing the tension between the manmade and natural environment. Kyong Ae Kim, Walter James Mansfield, and Christy Kovacs explore this precarious tension, while also highlighting nature’s fragility by their use of material and structure. Walter James Mansfield’s Emergent Behavior allows us to imagine the idea of flight and feel its implied movement, without direct representation a flock of birds. Christy Kovacs carefully weaves photographs of man-made structures into delicate natural forms such as a rose. And Kyong Ae Kim digitally creates winged creatures, carefully pinned like scientific specimens, in The Metamorphosis.
Together the artists in Flight, Flock, and Hollow explore the delicate balance in nature and our relationship to, and interpretation of it.
Image: Irene Imfeld, Vacant Nests 12