The Mystical Order of Andrea Way’s Abstractions

Andrea Way’s meticulous abstractions unfurl into lush, complex systems of syncopated shapes that recall networks of all kinds. The San Francisco-born, Washington, D.C.-based artist is currently getting her due in the Arkansas Art Center’s National Drawing Invitational, which convenes eight artists who are expanding the definition of drawing and the way it is commonly perceived.

Since the 1980s, Way has approached her work with the systematic precision of a mathematician tackling a proof. By imposing a set of rules that govern how marks build, interlock, and ultimately tessellate across her substrates, Way creates compositions that are at once organized and organic. The results have amassed as a treasure trove of jewel-like, geometric drawings that emulate patterns pulled from nature, culture, and technology.

Conjuring the repetitive, rhythmic energy of Piet Mondrian’s jazz paintings and Yayoi Kusama’s dot abstractions, Way’s Murano (2011) fuses structure with spontaneity. Like the piece’s namesake network of Venetian bridges and glass traditions, Way’s ordered arrangement of lines lead to pockets of free-form activity that emanate from bright blue and red orbs and undulating, amoeba-like outlines. Similarly, Gray Lagoon (2011) and Lavender Field (2012) are inspired by Way’s personal experiences in nature, but play out as ambiguous abstractions that call to mind fantastical celestial networks, sci-fi switchboards, and maps of mystical lands.

—Alexxa Gotthardt

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