On Saturday, March 18th, 2017, I visited The Arts Center of the Capital Region in Troy, NY to view the exhibit “Unearthed.” This gallery was on display from January 21st until March 18th. It featured artists Mandi Coburn and Grace Tatara. Both are abstract artists that allow their materials to make forms of their own; as a result, each piece is unique. They use experimentation in their work and later connect and manipulate the results by hand. This exhibit had pieces that were paintings, drawings, and metal works. I chose to focus on two of Mandi Coburn’s works that really stood out from the rest.
Mandi Coburn’s work is abstract, yet the two pieces that stood out also had a trace of surrealism in them. The first piece, Untitled XI is an ink and sharpie drawing on Yupo. These drawings are very skeletal in nature because of the thin lines and use of negative white space. The light washes of cool colors give the drawing a ghostly air. It is an abstract piece, yet it also looks like it could be a landscape in a dream world. The top peaks resemble old trees with dead branches, growing fungus and decomposing. The twisted lines and forms along the bottom of the piece resemble roots. My interpretation of this piece is death and renewal. Life is cyclical, as are many things in life. The process Coburn uses to accomplish this piece is very effective. Seeing how the ink colors moved and created their forms on the page is inspiring. To take that and then create the drawing around it is something that could be applied to my own experiments in art. It forces creativity in the best possible way.
The second piece shares much in common with the first one. It is also ink and sharpie on Yupo, and it is abstract. It was made in the same way as her other pieces that were exhibited, by letting her materials make their own forms, then manipulating them by hand. This piece, Untitled XII makes use of more color than Untitled XI. Because there is more color, the drawing seems more lively, not as skeletal. The colors are brighter as well, yellows, pinks, and greens. Surrealism seems to leak into the drawing where there could be some forms. It doesn’t seem completely abstract. The soft, organic shapes on the bottom resemble fluffy clouds, and the rest looks like a structure sitting atop. The design mimics symmetry, yet it is not symmetrical, each side is differently designed in color and line weight. The colors seem to be practically isolated on either side, but when they are introduced to the round part in the middle, they all flow together. The top part of this drawing also has a much more geometric feel when compared to the bottom part of the drawing, although it is still overwhelmingly organic in nature.
Coburn’s art style is very inspiring. Experimentation with materials and the use of chance create much more interesting meaning behind each piece. Not knowing what will happen, and then making something out of it can be very difficult. Yet, Coburn uses this method very effectively in each piece that she creates.
Ink + sharpie on Yupo
40″ x 26″
Ink + sharpie on Yupo
40″ x 26″