Natalie Serber, English faculty, published a review of Eliza Robertson's Wallflowers in The New York Times' Book Review section in October 2014.
January 13 - February 15, 2013
Kelly Rauer: Weight
Samantha Wall: Laid to Rest
The Art Gym presents two new exhibitions: Weight by Kelly Rauer and Laid to Rest by Samantha Wall. The artists, both based in Portland, are presenting new work in two separate, but related exhibitions.
Kelly Rauer's Weight is a multi-channel video installation. In the interrelated video footage, Rauer is seen dancing in her spare, unfurnished studio. At times, her moving body is silhouetted against the light coming in from curtained windows and other times the focus is on close-ups of her exertion as she tests her balance and endurance.
Samantha Wall makes drawings, which use video the artist shoots as source material. In her exhibition Laid to Rest for The Art Gym, she, like Rauer, focuses on a single female figure. Wall has created a set of drawings that draw on selected video stills as they explore the emotional and cultural underpinnings of gesture.
Terri M. Hopkins
Director and Curator, The Art Gym
More about Kelly Rauer: Weight
Weight is the story of a woman in a room with a video camera—moving, dancing, pausing, resting—using the instrument of her own body to explore possibilities and limits, using the camera to record those experiments and experiences.
Weight grows out of two previous video installations: Shaping Sequence presented at New American Art Union, Portland, Oregon, in 2010 and P.O.V (reflexive) at Gallery 5 at Milepost 5, Portland in 2011. Shaping Sequence was a 30-minute three-channel video projected as an 18-foot wide triptych on a single wall. Rauer presented close-ups of her slowly moving body—the landscape of shoulder, inner arm, neck—often too close for the viewer to discern exactly which limb or joint was presented and thereby shifting attention to skin and contour. In P.O.V (reflexive), the artist experimented with attaching a very small video camera to different parts of her body producing distortions ranging from the comical to the grotesque. This work was presented on seven small television monitors on stands of varying heights.
Over the past year, Rauer again videotaped herself dancing in her studio at different times of day, responding to the changing quality of natural and artificial light. She wore clothing designed by Emily Katz that allowed her to explore and test movement possibilities and assumptions. Katz's costume design also supported Rauer's emphasis on the body's mechanics and surface and de-emphasis on female sexuality. The artist examined the resulting video footage, edited and composed it for presentation in a large darkened space designed for her exhibition in The Art Gym. By separating the footage into sections, she was able to orchestrate the work in overlapping parts, much like music. And by using multiple projectors and monitors to place imagery at various scales and heights around the room, she is able to prompt visitors to stop, linger, turn, pause, reflect, refocus and move. Weight is Rauer's most complex and ambitious installation to date and was supported, in part, through an Artist Opportunity Grant from the Oregon Arts Commission and a project grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council.
In 2004, Rauer graduated from The Evergreen State College, in Olympia, Washington, with a BA in Fine Art and Photography. Since then she has had five solo exhibitions and participated in numerous group shows in Oregon and Washington. She also served as the director of programs for the Portland Art Center, managing director for New American Art Union (Portland) and worked as an independent curator. In 2011, Rauer participated in residencies through Signal Fire and Milepost 5.
More about Samantha Wall: Laid to Rest
Samantha Wall has created six masterful graphite and charcoal drawings for her exhibition Laid to Rest in The Art Gym. Wall was born in Seoul, South Korea, and moved as a child with her mother to the United States in part due to Korean attitudes toward bi-racial children born to Korean women and African-American servicemen. In her drawings, she considers and depicts the complex and unsettling struggles of the self to come to terms with conflicting identities, cultural expectations and emotions.
Over the past five years, Wall has explored these issues through large drawings that combine graphite with charcoal or ink. The work taps her interest in how women are treated in Asian and American culture and how they are depicted in art and film, with a particular interest in Asian horror genres. Her 2011 MFA exhibition, Shame On Me, was a series of drawings of a naked woman struggling with her own shadowy silhouette (Wall used herself as the model). In the 2012 exhibition Partially Severed, Wall focused on the heads of the figures, including the triptych Furies, which is a direct predecessor to the work the artist has created for The Art Gym.
In Furies, Wall focused the drawing on the subject's upturned face, hair, exposed neck and shoulders. For the five drawings that make up Five Words in The Art Gym exhibition, she continues this focus on the woman's head and neck, but pulls back to include a barely articulated, ghostlike torso and arms. In a recent conversation, Wall relayed her interest in the Japanese yurei, who are said to be dead souls who remain in limbo due to the circumstances of their lives or deaths. She employs many of the features of traditional drawings of these unsettled ghosts: long, unbound black hair (in keeping with the Japanese tradition of loosening a woman's hair in public only for her funeral rites and burial), dangling arms and hands and invisible legs and feet. Wall's use of this imagery of disembodiment is disturbing and intentional and it underlines the often dark and elusive understanding we have of the body and its relationship to psyche and self, which is the subject of much of her work.
Wall's exhibition is supported, in part, by a grant from the Regional Arts & Culture Council.
Samantha Wall received her BFA in Studio Art from the University of South Carolina in Columbia, South Carolina, and her MFA in Visual Studies from the Pacific Northwest College of Art in Portland, Oregon. In addition to the shows mentioned above, her work has been included in exhibitions at the Cue Art Museum in New York City and the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art in New York State. In 2011, she received an MFA Grant Award from the Joan Mitchell Foundation and this spring the artist will participate as a resident in the inaugural year of the Joan Mitchell Center Artist in Residence Program in New Orleans, Louisiana.
--Terri M. Hopkins
Director and Curatior, The Art Gym