Monday, November 7, 2011

Surfing the Surfacing Exhibit at Luce

This weekend I dropped in on the Surfacing show at Pizza Luce, a collaborative art exhibit featuring artists Emily Herb and Tonya Borgeson. I really enjoy titles of shows, especially when so fraught with meanings.

Surface 1. the outer face, outside, or exterior boundary of a thing; outermost or uppermost layer or area.

To surface can also be used as a verb so that the word surfacing can mean “finishing the surface.”

The layers of potential interpretation entice the mind. I think here of peoples’ masks or the façade’s they wear. The external surface is all we see of many people who conceal their inner lives, inner selves. Surfaces, however, can also reveal as much as they conceal, as in the dress here with the heart inside. On the other hand, some people spend their whole lives concealing, polishing the veneer surface, trying to project it just right.

This show is more likely the opposite. That inner soul of the artists, which has been hidden, is now surfacing, emerging, appearing. Like flying fish or other creatures of the sea they are leaping out from the hidden depths, glistening in the daylight, rainbow sprinkles of spray shimmering in all directions before breaking the surface only to re-emerge, agitating the surface of the waters, bringing delight to the eyes of anyone in the vicinity who happens to catch the show.

The invitation to this exhibition included a poem.

Below the surface, I have pulled from the muddy banks of my mind.
Above the surface, I have uncovered and exposed and put into flight.
To be defined as immersion of the unspoken and unseen.

When I asked about the poem, Tonya replied, "The poem came out of discussions between emily and me, about our creative process and the experience taking the photographs in the creek."

Where did the idea for Surfacing really come from? Emily had started this series of work with the intention of releasing certain elements of her history. Showing a side that is nostalgic yet accessable, she touches on the concept of why growing up includes covering up and encourages the viewers to return to a personal yet common place that may have been forgotten. Emily is excited to share images that perhaps evoke familiarity between different age groups, genders, and "home" localities. By bringing to the surface these slips of moments, they are more easily tangible and hold stronger than ever before existing in the mind alone.

Tonya chose to take her work beyond what the mind has hung on to and release it into a populated, yet individual higher existence. She combines elements of motion and transparency to achieve feelings of growth and freedom. Just as banners and flags can be used as clips of identity, so are the shapes and materials she has selected as representation of her message. When one is given an opportunity to raise awareness to themselves, the bolder and stronger messages reach more- they rise above the surface to be viewed and by everyone looking out for them.

Both artists chose to use mediums that posed a unique and challenging experience. This strategy has also given the exhibit itself a personal identification, along with collaborative and friendly elements. And once again, I personally enjoy seeing art in public spaces.

FWIW, this week there will be an opening of their new gallery and studios, The Stage Coach at 15 Third Avenue West, with the kickoff event scheduled for 7-9:00 p.m. With live music, drinks and appetizers, it sounds like a great follow-up to the Duluth Art Institute opening which will be from 5-7:00 p.m. that same evening. It's free and open to the public. And as an artist I especially appreciate the "call to all artists interested in displaying their artworks in the new gallery space." I believe The Stage Coach is Emily Herb's baby, with strong assistance and support from Borgeson.

Click images to enlarge.

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