Looking Glass: A Monthly Post on Four Artists Who Caught My Eye • February

Ed Pien- Ed Pien is a Canadian artist whose work I came across while researching paper art. I have been following his work for a few years now and love the interactive installations he creates.  The circular environments are made from paper that he paints, cuts and projects onto. The low lighting, shadows and use of video and projections animate the work in beautiful and sometimes slightly sinister ways.  His website has a video of a performance/installation where you see a shadow figure move on the other side of a paper wall with this intense sound piece going at the same time.  Link

Christina Bothwell- Christina Bothwell’s work is what I think I shouldn’t like at first blush- figurative, dreamy, a little too precious.  Yet, I’ve been looking at it for a few years now and my internal art school police are not shaming me like they do for some of my own aesthetic choices.  Her work *could* be too twee, but it isn’t. It’s dreamy, there is whimsey, but it is also a little rough and ugly- and I say that in the most loving way.  The raku clay and glass combination leads to this beautiful, soulful elegance that is as earthy as it is ethereal.  Each figurative piece owes something to victorian-era dolls, but the figures seem to go way beyond the frivolous and move more into the realms of mysticism and transcendentalism.  Link

Radcliffe Bailey- I have never seen Radcliffe Bailey’s work in person, which is a shame, because his mixed media 3D and 2D works are things that take up space, and (I believe) make grand and personal gestures to the immediate viewer.  His exhibit “Memory as Medicine” at the High Museum in Atlanta garnered a lot of praise and visibility for Bailey.   He spoke about his use of themes such as music as a universal element, the middle passage and more recent devastations like Katrina.  “Windward Coast”, a sea of piano keys with a single black head surfacing the chaos, is starkly irresistible.   This piece made me think of Howardena Pindell’s ghostly face in her painting “Autobiography: Water/Ancestors/Middle Passage/Family Ghost”.   His more recent assemblage pieces at the Bridget Mayer Gallery are smaller, more intimate explorations of these themes pairing piano keys with model ships covered in black glitter, taxidermy and steel.   Link

Mary Jo Bole- I saw MJ’s work several years ago at the Weston Art Gallery in Cincinnati.  I didn’t know her at the time, but loved her macabre humor and use of materials.  She has a show up in LA right now, “Tombs and Toilets”, and an artist book Toilet Worship printed by Logan Elm Press.  She works with diverse materials such as wallpaper, ceramics, cast iron, glass and more to make standalone sculptures and installations that are darkly humorous and researched with a ravenous curiosity I admire.  She has exhibited and been an artist in residence in the U.S. and abroad, including “Wounded Home” at the Lloyd Library and Museum here in Cincinnati as well as another interesting installation project at Eastern State Penitentiary and arts and industry residency at Kohler Factory and Foundry.  Link

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