opening reception Thursday 10.01 @ 12:30pm
I make visually volatile renderings of simple forms and ordinary objects. My pieces are made from acrylic paint—in patterns of dots, lines and other marks—applied to transparent sheets of polyester film, aligned and suspended on metal rods. Viewers see a row of 2-dimensional surfaces—like a sequence of cross sections—collectively conjuring a 3-dimensional illusion. Hovering in space, they are viewable from 360 degrees; with no fixed or favored point of view, the alignment of the layers is constantly in flux. As a viewer’s perspective and proximity shifts, these objects gradually and radically transform: viewed askew appearing solid and extended, from the front flattening out like paintings, from the side seeming to fold into space and disappear.
Though schematic or abstracted renderings such as these might seem to privilege the idea of the thing represented, the representation itself is inevitably physical, with its own peculiar set of properties. These pieces shimmer as you approach because light passes through them; they quiver because air does not. Their elusive physicality—impelling viewers to repeatedly reconfigure and reassess what they are perceiving—works to confound the distinction between an idea and a thing. Seeming at once abstract and concrete, absent and present, coming together and coming apart, these pieces strive to give pleasure by disrupting—outstripping, even—our habitual means of making sense of the things we see.
Russell Prather has shown painting and sculpture at the Museum of Northwest Art in Washington State, Yorck Studios in Berlin, the Chicago Art Department Gallery, the Duluth Art institute, Stephen F. Austin State University in Texas, Truman State University in Missouri, and other venues. Prather’s visual art is deeply, if idiosyncratically, influenced by the study of literature, especially the work of turn-of-the-18th century poet and artist William Blake. Prather currently teaches eighteenth, nineteenth and twentieth century literary and visual culture at Northern Michigan University, and directs the English department’s Master of Arts program. He has published both art and criticism, including William Blake and the Problem of Progression in Studies in Romanticism.