By Margaret Ann Ryan
You Are Here is the theme for the current Nave Gallery art exhibition. The title of the show makes me wonder if Ram Das has returned to the Boston area. I would not put it past those creative folks at the Nave, Somerville’s all volunteer, community run art spaces.
The Nave Gallery in Teele Square and the Nave Annex Gallery in Davis Square (53 Chester Street, next to Redbones) regularly expose the public to cutting edge art, music events and talks by established and emerging artists. Curators Vanessa Marcoux and Sandy McDonald fulfill the Nave mission once again. The exhibition examines the role and use of maps in art, both as subject and as medium.
The Curators state, “For centuries, humans have used maps to chart their world, from the human body to the stars and everything in between. Both foreign and familiar, we can lose ourselves and find ourselves in the landscape of maps.” With this in mind McDonald and Marcoux encouraged artists to explore the literal and conceptual meaning of maps and the curators invited artists creating in any medium to submit. As a result You Are Here presents the audience with a variety of maps filled with meaning that goes beyond “Where is this?” to “How does this make me feel? Where did the artist come up with such a concept?”
Jennifer Carland’s digital print Somerville gives the viewer an aerial perspective of the dense local environment. Carland loosely bases her art on real geography abstracted so that shapes, line and color alter the maps to create a piece of artwork illustrating her representation of a real place. The map becomes conceptual rather than utilitarian.
Google Maps Street View inspires Craig Eastland to take computer assisted road trips to neglected and unseen corners of America. Eastland visited old haunts from Brooklyn to Oakland to grab images to paint in his art. In First One, oil on board, Eastland enters a neighborhood caught in the heat and sunshine of late morning. The blues sky and lush green trees against the burnt out hills are forever captured in time and space.
Tree Trunk, a three dimensional piece by Karolina Kawiaka, investigates the relationship of natural and manmade environments. Her interpretation of the map of a tree trunk’s rings has been laser cut into a waffle surface of plywood. The result is a playful, airy undulating sculpture.
Jennifer Layzer explores ways of representing violence in an attempt to comment on the absurdity of war. Battle of Harpers Ferry, cut paper on Bristol board, was inspired by the tradition of elaborately decorating weapons, and the dichotomy between these richly decorated, beautiful objects and the violence, bloodshed and devastation which they can inflict. Battle maps are abstracted by removing all the features except the location of the troops. The sparseness of Layzer’s art highlights the futility and emptiness of war. All is fractured never again to unite or fully heal.
Turtle Pond, District 3, Saigon, a pen and ink by Corazon Higgins, graces the You Are Here announcement postcard. It buzzes with the hornet’s nest of life in any large city filled with traffic rotaries and the ongoing need to move about a place filled with transportation vehicles, people and dense housing laid out in a pattern more conducive to the terrain than to the modern madness of the car as the major mode of transportation. Is this a street in London, Seattle, Washington D.C. or even Powderhouse Circle, which one may need to negotiate to get to the Nave? See for yourself.
Marcoux and McDonald have collaborated on an exhibition that includes over thirty artists creating in multiple media: photography, graphic art, video, paint, printmaking, drawing, and collage. Artists make use of a wide range of materials: cement, wood, paper, metal, paints, pastels and more.
Marcoux and McDonald spent hours visiting studios to look at art and to talk directly with artists about their concepts and methods. As a result they give the viewer an abundance of approaches to art inspired by maps. Join them and the creative contributors for a magical road trip to local, domestic, foreign and mind map environments at the Nave Gallery.
You Are Here: Maps and Art runs August 3-18. Hours: Saturdays and Sundays, 1-5 p.m. NAVE Gallery, 155 Powderhouse Boulevard, Somerville, MA 02144.
Note other Nave projects: Yarnstorming Somerville continues with Doilies of Fluff, Union Square Plaza, Saturday, September 7, 2013 and Circles and Squares 713 Broadway, Ball Square, Saturday, September 29, 2013. Both Yarnstorming events occur 10AM-1 PM, with the rain date the next day. And the Nave Annex continues with a schedule of Exhibitions in Davis Square. Visit www.navegallery.org. for full details of all Nave Gallery related events current and into the Fall.