An echo, at its core, is a distant version of what it once was. A sound reverberates, then fades. It can be a haunting memory, or instill a sense of wonder. An echo can also be a reminiscence, a nod to something that came before it. The present echoes the past. It is not a perfect replication of it, but an acknowledgement of its heritage.
The works collected in this group show are echoes both in process and in concept. Their origins are transformed and concealed, resulting in the final piece appearing to be its own entity while still containing whispers of how it began. There is a loss of form, color, or imagery, but that does not detract from what remains. These artists are also investigating the loss of places, time, objects, and concepts as they create so that the work itself becomes an homage, an echo, to these distant sources.
Peter Hoffer’s landscapes at first appear to be traditional; serene and glossy representations of the world around us. However, upon stepping closer you discover that the paintings have drips and inconsistent marks, and the surfaces are scratched, cracked, and seared. He has manipulated them into different states of retrograde, as if they are antiquated works that have been abandoned and then uncovered. They carry a sense of nostalgia for both bygone times and the places that collect these kinds of memories, the attics and antique stores where you might stumble across an artifact such as the one he has created.
Sarah Irvin’s ink series reflects the shifting nature of memory, the evolution of language on an individual and societal level, and how the dependability of both can be lost over time. The series was initially inspired by her grandfather’s loss of language due to Alzheimer’s disease, but developed further as she began to use the limited language skills of her baby daughter as a starting point, shifting her focus from the end of our relationship with words to the beginning. She begins with ink and a non-absorbent Yupo paper, writing words in expressive cursive, then destroys those marks with squeegees, pulling the ink across the paper to form rich, dynamic new images. Remnants of the words sometimes remain visible, but their meaning can’t be deciphered.
Jeffrey Cortland Jones’ work is deceptively minimalist. A depth is revealed beyond the initial perception of monochromatic surfaces that’s built up through layers of rich color. Jones is not creating white paintings; he is pushing colors to their very limits, right up to the moment just before they become white. The underpainting peeks through here and there, giving a glimpse to the shades and textures that construct the final work. It’s because of these hidden features that Jones considers himself something of a landscape painter, inspired by the grit and entropy of his urban surroundings. He draws qualities from the peeling layers of paint on concrete walls, the scratches left behind by skateboards on handrails, the flecks of metal that shine through as surfaces are eroded over time. The surfaces of his paintings are then not only the ghosts of the colors underneath, but of the largely abandoned industrial landscape.
Ryan Sarah Murphy constructs reliefs from discarded cardboard. Finding her materials out on the street or in the remnants of her own consumerism, she removes any identifying branding, text, or images and uses what’s left without painting, treating, or otherwise manipulating them. Murphy allows what’s left to guide her, using its energy and unknown history to shape her decisions as she assembles them into forms that meet at the intersection of abstract and architectural elements, suggesting a strange terrain seen from an aerial view. The gritty remnants of an urban landscape are revived as bold structures with a bright, limited palette and an alluring tactile nature; an unexpected iteration of our society’s odds and ends.
Dana Oldfather begins her paintings by blocking in a scene from her Midwestern domestic landscape; the discomfort she feels when caught in traditional roles for women and notions of femininity, the isolation and loneliness of motherhood, the fragility of comfort and happiness. Then, she obliterates that imagery through layers of ink, spray paint, acrylic, and oil paints with frenetic marks. The narrative is masked by abstraction with a pulsing energy and bittersweet beauty, but Oldfather does not seek to hide it. Instead, she is adding to it, bringing her interior life up through the surface and building it on top of her exterior.