Source of Light and Darkness I, 2012, acrylic & charcoal on canvas, 18" x 18" (photo by Tom VanEynde)
APRIL 19TH-JUNE 16TH, 2013
POST-APOCALYPTIC TRASH PAINTINGS
In this series of paintings, Kathie Shaw is seeking to produce metaphorical images which interpret in an iconic way the potential future resulting from man’s unchecked use of power, power literally both to transform and to destroy. Within our current historic context, the way power is used could potentially put the very fate of the planet into question.
Civilization has collapsed any number of times in the past, but increasingly there are reasons to believe that the earth’s delicate balance could be so thrown off by human activity that the very existence of the human race and all other forms of life on the planet may eventually be at risk. There is no past scenario to draw on for information about the extremes we are facing. In human culture there is a long history of protesting harm and producing agitprop as warning. This, in the end, is the simple reason for the Post-Apocalyptic Trash Paintings.
The charcoal medium itself is fragile and fugitive, a direct metaphor for burning and destruction. At the same time the flat ultra black of the charcoal draws the viewer in with its seductive qualities. The pictures themselves depict subjects either directly or inferentially that are laden with the mysteries of the power they have produced. These technologically sublime structures are produced and, also at times, destroyed by man. Meanwhile, understanding their construction and the complexity of their usefulness are beyond the knowledge of most. The structures depicted in these works; electrical power lines, oil rigs, an Olympic sports stadium, or the steel remains of nuclear warfare are all shown as blackened silhouettes or as ravaged hulks. These blackened images are each seen against a sky that feels heavily burdened by the results of too much energy and power being unleashed into the atmosphere. Though they may possess a certain beauty, they are dirty and dripping with the unknown. The impermanence of man’s power over nature is inferred.
Curated by Sandra Binion.
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OPENING RECEPTION: 04.19.13, 6pm–9pm
Special performance by percussionist Frank Rosaly at around 7:30.
Kathie Shaw is an artist with a background and education in photography, painting/drawing, and architecture. At the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where she received her MFA, she studied with Ray Yoshida, Philip Hanson, and Michiko Itatani among others. While studying for her MArch degree at the University of Illinois at Chicago School of Architecture she studied with Charles Waldheim, Sharon Haar, Sidney Robinson, and Xavier Vendrell. As an undergraduate, she majored in photography at Penn State University and studied with Gerald Lang.
A lasting influence on her life and work has been Tibetan Buddhism, which she has been involved with for over 14 years. She has studied with some of the great masters in that tradition and has had extensive teachings with His Holiness the Dalai Lama, His Holiness the Drikung Kyabgon Chetsang Rinpoche, His Eminence Garchen Rinpoche, Venerable Khenchen Konchog Gyaltshen Rinpoche, Venerable Drupon Rinchen Dorjee Rinpoche, and many others. This pursuit has resulted in a lifelong commitment to Buddhism as well as three journeys to India.
Kathie's priorities include a deep concern for the environment and the growing devastation produced by war and over population. As long as the fate of our species hangs in the balance between what science tells us is happening and the ravages of consumption and profit, over time man will be required to deal with the total degradation of the environment and the resulting detritus of civilization. Will there be any attempt on a global scale to reverse these trends before it is too late? What are the costs to civilization itself of endless war and willful ignorance?
The paintings are meant as small, simple warning signs as well as visual symbols of the potential devastating loss we will face if we do nothing in the face of these challenges. The artist sees a kind of ultimate irony in making images that could, and ultimately will, face destruction as a result of the very things that drive her to make the images in the first place.
Her interest in travel and the built environment has led to a photographic investigation of disparate spaces and locations juxtaposed to expose both their similarities and their contrasts. Images of what man builds with so much expectation can be about the willful beauty of place, but in time it will also inevitably decay from the effects of benign neglect or outright lack of care. Of course there is beauty in this decay of worn or defaced surfaces and edges. Aside from this beauty, these signs of decay can also create in the viewer a melancholy awareness that everything is fleeting and subject to impermanence, including our individual and collective selves.
Audible at ESS is a public space and gallery for exhibitions, meetings, workshops, performances, and artists projects. A simple 400-square-foot space at street level, the space is not only used for ESS programs and events, but is also open to proposals by artists, organizations, and community members.