"Sacred Stream II"
Liz Ingram, "Sacred Stream II," 2001, digital output transparency, Plexiglass, wood, flourescent light, 102 x 76 x 20 cm.
LIZ INGRAM, AMY LOEWAN, LYNDAL OSBORNE, and LAURA VICKERSON, Human/Nature
Triangle Gallery of Visual Arts, Calgary (now Museum of Contemporary Art - Calgary)
Mar 17 — May 6, 2006
By Kay Burns
When looking at aspects of nature, it is impossible not to be aware of the inherent patterns that emerge in organic forms: veins on a leaf, ripples on a sand bar, the arrangements of petals on a flower. In Human/Nature,Liz Ingram, Amy Loewan, Lyndal Osborne, and Laura Vickerson are also conscious of the creation of pattern within work that alludes to natural forms and reflects on human relationships, and all of them undertake complex and laborious processes in the creation of their work. In the catalogue produced for this exhibition when it was shown in Hong Kong and Shanghai, essayist Amy Gogarty suggests that the four artists "communicate on personal and spiritual levels about the nature of the self, the nature of nature, and the importance of integrating the human and natural worlds."
Liz Ingram explores human/nature relationships through imagery of water. Her work portrays the human form under water with large format photo-transparencies in light-boxes. Here it is the relationship between the human hand and technology that depicts pattern — that of pixels in the digitized images. One series of works,Sacred Stream, consists of three curved Plexiglas forms. The other piece, Synectic Stream, is a long illuminated floor path that begs to be walked on, placing the viewer in the uncanny position of being able to walk on water.
Seeking forms to depict harmony in human nature, Amy Loewan uses rice paper marked with words and symbols to create large woven panels. Weaving as a process entwines separate elements together and creates pattern from that joining. Using printed and folded rice paper, Loewan weaves hangings that address issues of peace and cultural diversity. From a distance the panels appear as large geometric forms. Close up, viewers can read the specific words from over 30 different languages. As fragments of words are revealed/hidden by the under/over process of weaving, viewers can make their own connections to messages pertaining to human relationships.
Lyndal Osborne re-organizes materials created by nature — shells, fungus, dried plants, seeds, and stones — into new pattern arrangements. Placed into boxes and compartments, the work alludes to the human tendency to manage nature by forcing it into neat containers. In this installation, the components are compartmentalized according to texture and colour. The most colourful sections include the addition of man-made objects, such as plastic coated wire and DFO fish tags that reference coding imposed on nature by humans. The human hand affects our reading of nature, and Osborne's installation addresses the human desire to exercise control over nature's forms.
Laura Vickerson's William's Carnations installation, constructed of rose petals pinned to organza, hangs in the gallery like some kind of exotic cabana-like enclosure. The texture is one of velvety luxury, and yet it's made from now-dead flowers, referencing the transience of life and the cyclical nature of life and death to which we are all subject. Vickerson incorporates the inherent colour variations of the petals in her arrangement on the organza foundation. While inspired by a William Morris floral design, the result is a pattern that appears like a jacquard weave or brocade when viewed from a distance.
Individually, each artist employs her own materials and methods to reflect on the natural world and the human condition. Collectively, the works in Human/Nature affirm that perception and appreciation are located in the small details and in the processes of creation.