“Expanded Drawings,” a new exhibition at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts
features fresh interpretations of draftsmanship by four Minnesota artists. On view January 23 to March 15, the show presents new works by Nick Conbere, Michelle Johnson, Sonja Peterson, and Jack Pavlik, who offer original takes on line and drawing by experimenting with a variety of mediums and forms.
Exhibition-related events include an opening reception on Thursday, January 22, at 7 p.m.; a gallery talk with all four artists on Thursday, January 29, at 7 p.m.; and a critics’ trialogue on Thursday, February 5, at 7 p.m. All events are free.
Conbere’s invented, uninhabited landscapes are composed of multiple layers of drawings, traditional prints, photographs, and other digital works which build up to create dreamlike panoramas. His captivating scenes reflect a classical perspective that reference Albrecht Dürer’s sixteenth-century landscape etchings, while including contemporary design elements. In Landscape with Ups and Downs (2008), nature and industry overlap, fade away, and compete to be the uppermost layer. As viewers examine the relationships between natural and man-made worlds, it’s hard to distinguish the real from the imaginary.
Peterson’s intricate cut-paper works also spin rich accounts about the world we live in. Her detailed cut-outs of cityscapes and farmlands explore and question the notion of progress. In recent works, animals and people become entangled in tree roots; embroiling man and nature in an intense relationship. The artist layers the cut-outs, one in front of the other, to create works that visually merge and separate as the viewer draws closer.
Michelle Johnson and Jack Pavlik create abstract patterns and forms through repetitive motions. Johnson uses the delicate loops and curls of traditional calligraphy to create complicated abstract patterns. By repeating a single letter in meandering and overlapping patterns, she distorts the identity of the letter, thus freeing it from any meaning, and creating a new aesthetic identity, as in her H Series (2005–8).
Pavlik’s kinetic sculptures create visual and audio narratives of form and movement. His mechanical sculptures, composed of thin steel bands, gears, and motors, create elegant lines filled with tension, energy, and sound. In Twelve Bands (2006), U-shaped steel curves are set in motion to create waves that sing as they sway gently back and forth. The steel loops crisscross into patterns, causing shadows that dance along the wall and transform the gallery space.