Connecting the Dots

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Posted March 13, 2008 in Arts & Culture

Aristotle’s principle, “the whole is more than the sum of its parts,” is a widely debated mathematical position. But while the idea might not compute in the finite world, in theory, and especially in art, it makes perfect sense. When speaking of collage and multi-media works in particular, parts are often made up of disparate objects and medium, all of which are conjoined in the artist’s mind and then processed out into tangible form.

In dba256’s Sum of Parts, we find not only displays of this collage process, but often the repetition of forms that are not at all dissimilar—yet tampered with enough to create fragmentation and cohesion all at the same time.

Two of Irene Abraham’s acrylic on panel pieces do exactly this. Ironically, Abraham has a background in a scientific discipline—a research biologist—and so intrinsically knows about sums and parts. It’s no wonder then that all of her pieces evoke cellular images—especially “Strange Bedfellows” and “Random Acts”—orderly jumbles of circles and disks all painted in muted modern tones of tangerine, lemon yellow, brick red and copper brown, almost like records or earthy gumballs, scattered across textured, deep blue and brown washes. The disks are at once stagnant and in motion—what one might really see through a microscope, if it’s a fun, party-inclined microscope that is. Her two Mylar pieces also channel a scientific feeling—in toy land—with blue-green and orangey-brown acrylic dots connected by drips that meld into skyscrapers and industrial buildings made from Tinker Toys—or maybe they’re just amino acids. DNA? Fun, all the way around, nevertheless.

Also on some type of cellular level, Rebecca Hamm’s watercolors on paper filter nature’s offerings through a colorful spectrum of globular mosaic. Up close, it’s difficult to tell where the tributaries of branch-like lines and amoebas are going—but they’re going somewhere in a randomness of organized movement. From afar, we see that the negative space of these fragments indeed make up a tree, foliage, rocks, and even a pond. We wondered if we had put on our red-tinted glasses if a hidden word or phrase would appear—but we forgot our glasses, blast it.

Pulling us out of the microcosm, digital artist and painter Hollis Cooper’s wall-high acrylic on plastic is an energetic splash of color—a twisted abstraction of semi-recognizable city infrastructure that absolutely screams Rock & Roll. Careening across the wall like the environment seen from the windows of an out-of-control virtual taxi cab on acid, buildings plunge and turn in on themselves in waves and ignite upward once again, crashing through another plane, tugging at our reality to come along. 

Shedding the color, but transporting you further into wild yet recognizable abstraction, Rebecca Niederlander’s wire mobiles embody once again the repetition of shapes that the human mind craves and seeks out (like when we see faces of Jesus in tree trunks and potato chips). In a very “Seussian” way, her electrical wire danglings evoke childlike imaginings of zany chandeliers or even the bouncing bouffant of a swinger party hostess.

Speaking of childhood, that’s where several of Lisa Adams’ metaphysical acrylic on panels belong—in some Shel Silverstein storybook land. Fairly unplaceable insofar as finding a point of reference in the material world, Adams’ intricate vines with soon-to-bloom buds cling and burrow into a heavenly cameo of clouds, a simplistically circular dreamcatcher-like medallion, and my favorite, “How Important is Volume,” wrap around a plasma-membraned balloon, next to delicate blue string, floating high above a wistfully dark atmosphere.

We are now in a truly otherworldly and indefinable place, and so brings us to the finest piece in the exhibit. We don’t know what the hell is twisting around in the mind of Kimber Berry, but we wish we had it. Her 12×6 mixed media panel of paint and photo linen is utterly engrossing—a vibrant anarchy of super-charged shockwaves igniting almost every color on the palette: Think of an aquatic scene shot through the kaleidoscopic lens of The Yellow Submarine—psychedelic prisms of swirls that suck you into electric coral, vibrating frog’s legs and translucent crystalline waves. Berry, a truly emerging young artist, is a phemon to be sure, and this piece alone serves as the pure translation of the exhibit theme—the whole of her expression not only transcends its own parts, but renders them indistinguishable from it. 

And we can’t wait to see what she does next.

Sum of Parts at dba256 Gallery, 256 S. Main Street, Pomona, (909) 623-7600, www.dba256.com. Exhibit running through April 5

 


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