August 4, 2009
Alison Elizabeth Taylor's "Paradise Gates" (2009) is one of eight wood inlay paintings that will be on display when The College of Wooster Art Museum presents a one-person exhibition of the Brooklyn-based artist's work Aug. 25 through Oct 11. (Image courtesy the artist and James Cohan Gallery, New York, N.Y.)
WOOSTER, Ohio - Contemporary artist Alison Elizabeth Taylor challenges us, in her wood inlay paintings, to consider the effects of boom and bust cycles on those living in the economic margins. In her one-person exhibition at The College of Wooster Art Museum, which runs Aug. 25 through Oct 11, Taylor's exquisite marquetry (small bits of wood pieced together in a flat, pictorial surface) will be on display in the Sussel Gallery and the Burton D. Morgan Gallery in Ebert Art Center (1220 Beall Ave.). The opening reception will be on Tuesday, Sept. 8, from 6-8 p.m., with a gallery talk by Taylor at 7 p.m. Admission is free and open to the public.
In Taylor's view of the American Southwest where she grew up, tract homes and big box chain stores anchor "insta-communities," altering rural areas by gentrifying vestigial "frontiers" where off-the-gridders seek refuge. Although Taylor mines the physical ramifications of the transformation of desert and remote rural areas into suburbia, it is the individuals who do not fit into the homogenous structures of comfort and consistency that populate the artist's imagination and art. Janet Koplos, senior editor of Art in America, described Taylor's images as ones that expose "the very complex human relationship to a harsh, yet fragile, land; the difference between what is essential and superficial; isolation versus dependence...in a demoralizing observation of contemporary conditions."
Born in Selma, Alabama, in 1974, Taylor grew up in Las Vegas, Nevada, one of the most explosive markets for new housing in recent years and a steroidal example of the historical boom-and-bust cycle of western towns. She received a BFA in painting at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, Calif, in 2001, before completing her graduate work at Columbia University in 2005. "Taylor's marquetry-cum-paintings are a synthesis of tour de force technique and narratives bound together by themes of escape, isolation, and passion," said Kitty McManus Zurko, director and curator of The College of Wooster Art Museum. "She is deeply concerned with creating highly legible images that deal with concepts of territory, development, and progress - and the psychological states they inspire and provoke."
Works in the exhibition feature images of a squatter in Bombay Beach, Calif.; an empty pool in the desert behind a chainlink fence; two women under surveillance by a man in a truck; and an ex-Marine tenderly feeding a peacock. In addition to the eight wood inlay paintings, a constructed space titled, "Room," (2007-2008), invites viewers to walk into the 8 x 10 foot living and work space of its fictional inhabitant. Like a Renaissance-era studiolo, or study, "Room" is lined with wood inlay images that speak volumes about its owner. Objects depicted in "Room," include a Vietnam-era U.S. Army helmet with a playing card (ace of spades) symbolic of anti-peace sentiment during that era; American Indian dolls attired in ceremonial regalia (a reference to the Renaissance version of Gods and heroes); and a workbench and tools that speak to self-sufficiency and manual labor. Four "windowscapes" depict unspoiled nature on one side and tract homes on the other, subtly suggesting this place as a convergence point for socio-economic forces and asking whether or not the inhabitant will fit into the promises of yet another suburban utopia.
As an integral part of The College of Wooster, the mission of The College of Wooster Art Museum is to support and enhance the College's goals of teaching, research, and service through exhibitions, scholarship, collection preservation, and public engagement. The core goals of the museum are to promote campus-wide collaborations and interdisciplinary dialogue, while acting as a catalyst for creative engagement between the College and regional and national audiences.
The College of Wooster Art Museum is open Tuesday through Friday from 10:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Saturday and Sunday from 1-5 p.m. All receptions, lectures, exhibitions, and performances are free and open to the public. Group and class tours are also available. The museum will be closed Oct. 3-6 for fall break. The next exhibition, which runs Oct. 23 through Dec. 6, will feature paintings by Matthew Kolodziej and sculpture by Jaime Carrejo.
For more information, call 330-263-2388 or visit artmuseum.wooster.edu.
1189 Beall Avenue, Wooster, Ohio 44691. (330) 263-2000
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