Tuesday, April 20, 2010

PRESS RELEASE: husk / hive at Vermont Arts Exchange in Bennington

Recent Bennington College graduates and local artists Tess Meyer ’08 (left) and Lisa Dietrich ’07 (below) exhibit a new collection of their work, husk / hive, at Vermont Arts Exchange’s Mill Gallery, at the Sage Street Mill. The exhibit opens with a reception on Wednesday, May 5, from 5 to 9 p.m.

Dietrich’s print- and photography-based work combines content from a cache of old family photographs with screen print and textile-sculpture elements using felt, beeswax and gold leaf to describe warmth, connectedness, collaboration and preciousness.

Among this new work is an iteration of Dietrich's "True Needs Project,” an exploration that incorporates social media (namely Facebook) as a content-generating tool in the art-making process. “The ‘True Needs Project’ grew out of an interest in creating a shared vocabulary to describe the things that we (collectively) feel we cannot live without,” Dietrich says. By virtually inviting all of her 361 Facebook friends to an event entitled “True Needs,” and asking all attendees to note on the event wall — “a brief list (no more than five) things/ feelings/ states of being that are essential for your personal survival” — Dietrich generated a list of over 300 words. The list was then distilled into 50 representative “Needs” that are installed at the Mill Gallery in an interactive wall piece that asks visitors to rank the needs according to their preferences, thus incorporating another layer of collaboration and input.

Meyer’s drawings and installation-based sculptures are born from an investigation of her own perceptual habits, ruts and the tendency to disregard the familiar. The work is constructed from recycled materials such as shredded paper, push pins, string and thread; Meyer is drawn to materials that have served a particular utilitarian purpose — paper is for writing on, thread is for sewing, etc — and seeks to re-contextualize the oftentimes negligible objects that surround us into organic, ephemeral landscapes that take on a life of their own. Through principles of repetition and reproduction, Meyer builds a sense of movement and growth within her work via an improvisational and site-specific approach.

“The highly repetitive nature of my process provides me with an intimate knowledge of the material, allowing me to make compositional choices that grow more specific and precise as the work evolves,” Meyer says. “It is a direct conversation with the material, a practice of seeing the familiar anew.”

Small details morph from one segment to the next, and the evolution, multiplication and growth of detail create a visual landscape that shifts and refocuses depending on the proximity of the viewer to the work. This visually malleable quality allows the work to come in and out of focus — from a distance all of the parts merge into a whole, while up close the whole separates into a collection of parts.

husk / hive can be seen in VAE’s Mill Gallery Wednesdays through Fridays from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m., or by appointment, through June 25. For more information about Vermont Arts Exchange, exhibits and summer arts camps for children, contact VAE at 802-442-5549 or visit www.vtartxchange.org.