The spring show at CMCA was partially opened to public viewing on March 14th, 2020, and was scheduled to fully open on March 21st. Due to the Centers for Disease Control guidelines issued concerning the COVID-19 virus global pandemic outbreak, CMCA closed to the public until April 30th, or further notice. The Maine Arts Journal offered to highlight the show for our readers in this issue.
CMCA – 2020 Spring Exhibitions
Skirting the Line: Painting Between Abstraction and Representation
Through June 7
Presenting the work of five contemporary women painters—Meghan Brady, Inka Essenhigh, Tracy Miller, Anne Neely, and Hannah Secord Wade—whose work hovers on the line between abstraction and representation, this exhibition reveals the range and diversity they bring to the age-old medium. Employing different techniques to create new forms of landscape, still life, and the figure, each artist has a unique but cohesive visual language exploring the idea of what it means to portray a subject by looking at the interplay between abstraction and representation. Each reinvigorates painting today through energetic personal expression.
Meghan Brady creates deliberate and gestural marks of bold colors, which are as much about painting as they are drawing. Interested in a space between abstraction and representation, specifically in relation to the figure, human or otherwise, her work is constructed, deconstructed, and lands somewhere totally unexpected.
Inka Essenhigh is renowned for her sensuous dreamlike paintings, which translate her encounters with, and intuitions about, contemporary society into haunting, playful and sometimes disturbing visual scenes, marked by her undulating line and seductive surfaces.
Tracy Miller is best known for bold and colorful still life paintings that incorporate expressive renditions of familiar objects like pineapples, jello, and thick slices of layer cake, along with bright passages of color. Toying with composition and perspective, the dizzying arrangements appear to shift and move around the canvas.
Anne Neely fearlessly steps into her painted world and turns her keen sense of observation on herself, mining the internal landscape of memory and emotion. Collectively these paintings function as icons or meditations, each a page in the artist’s book of hours.
Hannah Secord Wade begins each painting with a gathering of imagery, as scraps of landscape and figuration are assembled and contained for a time. As the work progresses, these gatherings are continually washed away and rebuilt. Each canvas resulting from this action, imagery moved and shifted, contained and then resolved.
Erin Johnson: Spanning two galleries, Unnamed for Decades presents a series of new site-specific installations by artist Erin Johnson, recipient of the 2nd annual Ellis-Beauregard Foundation Fellowship, awarded to a Maine artist in recognition of outstanding work.
The exhibition explores Johnson’s ongoing interest in the complexity of collectivity, the wide-ranging consequences of scientific research, as well as dissidence, desire, and the queer body. The title of the exhibition is drawn from a text about Solanum plastisexum—an Australian bush tomato whose sexual expression has confounded scientists and appears to be unpredictable and unstable, challenging even the fluid norms of the plant kingdom.
This enigmatic plant is central to I might not be here when you come, filmed in Bucknell University’s Solanum plastisexum lab and the Huntington Botanical Garden in Los Angeles. The voice-over is an amalgamation of texts including love letters between conservation writer Rachel Carson and Dorothy Freeman, and interviews with botanist Tanisha Williams. In an adjacent series of photographs and video installations, a group of friends, peers, and lovers engage in collective queer and desirous exchanges.
Reflecting on feminist theorist Silvia Federici’s call to “reconnect what capitalism has divided: our relation with nature, with others, and our bodies,” the exhibition considers questions surrounding the interrelationship between scientific and political practices, the reinvention of what it means to be human, and climate crisis.
Image at top: Skirting the Line installation view with works by Inka Essenhigh and Hannah Secord Wade (photo: courtesy of CMCA).