Thursday, March 3, 2011

Liz Belen's Writ Crit

The work Liz Belen installed in the critique room consists of work from the past two semesters. There is photo documentation of the instillation she installed as her final last semester, three long vertically hung piece drawn on paper, as well as some of her newer work made with neon duct tape, and possible ideas for future installations.

There are three pieces that hang together as a grouping, one small, one medium, and one larger in size all made using brightly colored duct tape.

Although the pieces do feel very two dimensional there is a sense of movement created by the different shapes especially at the top of the larger piece where there are a bunch of short thin lines that seem to be falling down the page. This piece also becomes intriguing when the layering of the duct tape is visible, where you can see shapes that are slightly raised but then have been covered creating nuances in the strips that are otherwise flat. While it is clear that the material being used in these works is duct tape I am not sure that the significance of using this material is apparent. Although I know from talking to Liz that she wanted to use a traditionally household item to create pattern so that it can be seen in a different way, because the duct tape is in non-traditional colors it is hard to see it as being the traditional gray household duct tape that many people do have in their homes. However, I feel that Liz does utilize the material quality of duct tape and how it can be torn and cut easily staying in even strips, to create layers that vibrate against each other drawing the viewer in and making the pieces fun to look at.

The largest pieces Liz has hung are three vertical works which seem to have originally belonged to one larger sheet of paper but have since been cut up into three equal sections creating vertical strips.

In these pieces Liz seems to be exploring many different types of pattern that have mostly been drawn on the paper with marker, pen or pencil but some have been printed and then attached to the paper. There are all sorts of shapes and lines utilized in these three works to depict organic shapes as well as geometric forms. The varieties of texture and combination of both black and white and colorful forms creates a more three dimensional effect which sets these three pieces apart from most of Liz’s other work which is usually very two dimensional (e.g. the neon pieces). The depth created along with the fact that some patterns are present on more than one page allows the viewer’s eyes to flow from piece to piece spending time examining the highly detailed parts of the page while still having white space to rest on so it is not too overwhelming. Although it seems to be merely an investigation of pattern without any other underlying purpose, the layered space coupled with the sheer number of detailed patterns being illustrated creates a very aesthetically pleasing group of works where the viewer’s eyes are never bored.

For the installation from last semester Liz painted the walls of the East Installation space with a light and dark blue plaid pattern that wrapped around the three walls of the space and enclosed a sheet of sewn together blue relief prints (some printed on white paper others on mylar) that were cut out and sewn together with red thread. This sheet acted as a fourth wall in a way creating a semi-enclosed space between itself and the plaid wall behind it but which the viewer could also partially see through due to the parts of it that were of mylar.

There are also three sketches for what are presumably ideas for future installations.

Undoubtedly, Liz’s work investigates pattern and pairing certain patterns together that might not normally be pared to create new designs. Lately, Liz has begun to explore letting the qualities of certain materials, such as duct tape, dictate her patterns such as in the layered, extremely geometric duct tape pieces. While creating patterns in this way is intriguing, it is also important for Liz to keep in mind why she wants certain patterns to be made out of or on certain materials. I do feel that continuing to utilize the properties of new materials to dictate her pattern making could strengthen this body of work.

It is clear too from the installation Liz did last semester as well as one of her sketches that creating a space that surrounds the viewer with pattern is important to Liz. With the installation, Liz succeeded in creating a patterned space encompassed the viewer between the sheet of prints and the plaid wall. However, the mood created was very different when the viewer was standing inside this space versus on the outside looking in. When the viewer stood between the plaid and the sheet of relief prints there was an almost ethereal feel looking at the light shining through the semi transparent “wall,” yet when the viewer stood outside looking in there the transparencies in the wall of prints created intriguing layerings with the plaid behind it but no ethereal feel was generated. Since there are so many different patterns prevalent in this body of work, it is important to recognize that each pattern and color does create a different mood and thus it will be critical for Liz to keep in mind what type of feeling (if any) she wants to create in a space and produce patterns that do induce that specific mood. Furthermore, many of Liz’s works with color still feel very two dimensional even when she covers three dimensional objects or a space with them such as she did in her installation from last semester. However, in her work using just black and white and different variations of black lines, her work begins to become more three dimensional even if it is still only on paper. Thus, I think it will be important for Liz to decide if she wants the point of her work to be flattened pattern covering three dimensional objects and flattening a space or if she wants her work to have more depth. If the latter is the case then one path Liz might want to try is limiting her palette to one type of line, one pattern, and/or one color and exploring just that one type, isolating it and pushing it to its limit. Although Liz has some decisions to make regarding intentionality I think that thus far she has made some very interesting and intriguing explorations and creations of pattern.

Suggestion of artists to look at: Campbell Laird, Bridget Riley, James Siena, and Liza Lou.

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