Eye Lounge has been kicking off 2015 with exhibitions that highlight where they've been, where they are, and where they may be going. The most expansive of these is "Self Made: 15 Years of Eye Lounge," currently on view at Vision Gallery in Chandler until March 8, 2015. Bringing together the works of over 60 artists, of Eye Lounge both past and present, the exhibition shows just how diverse visual art in Phoenix is. At times, the exhibition may seem overloaded within the walls of the gallery, but as a whole the exhibition excellently illustrates how influential Eye Lounge has been over the past 15 years.
Photographic works by Cole Robertson and Peter Bugg directly deal with images of popular culture. Two works by Cole Robertson, America's Next Hot Mug Shot #1 and #2, manipulate the way images are perceived. An image of supermodel Tyra Banks is paired next to a mugshot of an unknown man. Made of laser cut acrylic, it's difficult to discern an image at first. After moving around the piece and examining the light traveling through it, the images become a bit more clear. By selectively removing information and juxtaposing these images, Robertson is playfully blurring the line between a beauty shot in fashion and a mugshot.
Peter Bugg's Paring: DVF is a clipping from a magazine that's delicately hand-cut. The patterns on the garments that these fashion models are altered and there's a lone figure cut out in the corner of the clipping. Like Robertson, Bugg is removing information from the image and altering how we perceive it. There's a bit of trickery there, too. With this information removed, everything still seems like it's almost just as it was -- the garments look perfectly believable with much of the pattern removed. However, the effect of the light traveling through the clipping and its casing reveals the illusion along with the artist's hand.
Textiles are also a prevalent thread running throughout the exhibition. Aloha Shirt by Kaori Takamura is acrylic on canvas that's stitched into being a rigid Hawaiian shirt that shows all of its unfinished threads. Paired with the shirt is a pair of shoes, another piece by Takamura called Adidas Superstar. These everyday items evoke a memory -- they look worn through time. These two pieces speak to the memories that are embedded in everyday objects, especially clothing. I'm reminded of a Hawaiian shirt that I used to have when I was a kid.
Ann Morton's Ground Cover also speaks to the evocative nature of textiles in addition to how they can engage a community. Working with over 600 volunteers, roughly 300 hand-made blankets were installed in a vacant lot in downtown Phoenix. Each of the blankets functioned as pixels of sorts, coming together to form a final image. These blankets were then distributed to homeless people. On the project's website, groundcoveraz.com, you can click through and view each volunteer's contribution to the larger blanket. Along with providing a sense of home to those without a home, the project connects maker culture, visual art, and community action.
This exhibition as a whole features a lot of work that engages with everyday, but two works that stand out are Ryan Peter Miller's Thank You Have a Nice Day and documentation from Mimi Jardine's The Office of Environmental Responsibility - To-Go Lid Division project. Miller's work resides in-between painting and sculpture. Essentially, it's an acrylic painting without a traditional canvas, questioning what a painting is through both material and content. A plastic bag is about as mundane as you can get, but Miller transforms it into an object-painting that commands attention. Provided with permanence, the object can be imagined as a relic of our times.
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Photocopies from Jardine's archive of to-go lids are incredibly maniacal -- and I mean that as a good thing. As you thumb through this packet of pseudo-official data, it's kind of alarming. These everyday objects are so plentiful in our daily lives that they almost become non-objects. On each page she details where the lids were found and how they were found. One page features a lid that was found in the artist's hand after finishing a drink, presenting her own environmental responsibility. Even though the work has serious implications about littering, it still has an endearing absurdity to it.
"Self Made: 15 Years of Eye Lounge" is on view at Vision Gallery in Chandler until March 8, 2015. For more information, visit visiongallery.org