“Wild Cuts” examines health, grief, loss, social roles and identity across collaged mediums from film and performance, sculpture, weaving, quilting, overhead projection and more traditional cut-and-pasted printed matter.
One particularly engaging piece, “Glitchfield II” by Naomi Powers, was built of nearly iridescent hues of hand-woven cotton with which the artist employs irregularity, pattern and glitches in the process of creation to produce, by hand at the loom, what appears to be a screen full of broken digital information. It recalls lineages woven into Persian carpets and encoded language broadcast over the internet, evoking an evolution of systems of communication and how gestures are translated and valued over time. Beyond that, it’s gorgeous and should be looked at while you consider the quality and veracity of information you receive on a daily basis.
Danielle O’Brien’s “Spout,” a 3-D mixed-media collage that resembles a synthetic organ awaiting transplant, elicits a guttural response. Its paper components are images of bits of food and unrecognizable yet unmistakably wet, fleshy surfaces, while metal and rubber parts are screwed into and wrapped around a protrusion coming from the central, heart-like aspect of the piece. “Spout” has a David Cronenberg quality, something nearly nightmarish as you look closer. It is entirely alien, yet we can’t help but wonder if it belongs to us, if something like this is already inside us, working away at an unknown but essential biological chore.
Digital collage is used in “Wild Cuts” to illuminate multiculturalism and public life online, and as a means of coping with the death of a parent. Rebecca Griffith’s VHS magnetic tape is quilted to offer solace from disease in memories of health and comfort. Colby Beutel’s Hockney-like photo collage illustrates decay. Much of the work is highly personal and unique in how it communicates. Communication itself is a collage, a collection of variously organized gestures glued together by experience, history and disposition. What we say isn’t necessarily what we communicate, and regardless, we have no control over how what we communicate is interpreted. While not all of the works in the show necessarily deliver on what their artist statements promised, nearly all ring as sincere attempts to share a feeling, a memory, a piece of the self. (Damien James)
“Wild Cuts” shows through August 12 at Woman Made Gallery, 685 North Milwaukee.