Front Room Gallery is proud to present "Mapping Heaven" a group exhibition of artists who use diagramming and mapping methods to explore the unknowable.
This show includes installation, sculpture, painting, large format video, and collage by Babette Allina, Sally Curcio, Allen Hansen, Dennis Hlynsky, Thomas Lyon Mills, Igor Molochevski, Lindsey Noble, Anne LaPrade Seuthe, Patricia Smith and Larry Walczak.
The concept for this exhibition, curated by Linda Griggs, is inspired by "Darwin's God" by Robin Marantz Henig (March 4th, 2007, New York Times Magazine) which discussed Stephen Jay Gould's idea of religion as a spandrel in the evolutionary biology of the brain.
A spandrel in architecture is the triangular space between the shoulders of two arches and the ceiling above it. Spandrels are a byproduct of the architect's intent to hold up a ceiling or dome with a colonnaded row.
Within the theory of exaptation: spandrels are defined as characteristics that did not originate by the direct action of natural selection and that were later co-opted for a current use.
Stephen Jay Gould appropriated this architectural term to illustrate this theory, futher using 'spandrels' to describe religion as a byproduct of the evolutionary tools of agent detection, causal reasoning and theory of mind. Those who cherish religious belief need not be offended. Wouldn't "Intelligent Design" preprogram our brains to search for God.
Gould's choice of an architectural term is poetic when viewing art that explores mapping and the diagram as a metaphor. As Thomas Lyon Mills, artist and educator, wrote,
"Like mapmakers, we draw and paint what we observe, but find our drawings inevitably cross over into the unknown, for, like maps, they are never truly, wholly accurate, never allowing for shifting points of view, or even the necessity of dreams. This then, is our regionâ€”where the visible and invisible meet, where the observed and the intuitive lie side by side, and where the seen pays a constant debt to the unseen"
There is a visual overlap in the appearance of diagramming and mapping even though one helps you understand something and the other helps you find someplace. But when the thing and place are unknowable, it's hardly a meaningful distinction. Artist Dennis Hlynsky notes that "One of the diagram's most intriguing aspects is how it allows us to see a mind at work, thinking things out on paper, unconcerned about whether others will find that thinking coherent. Diagrams can easily leap time and space, bridging unlike ideas and giving form to otherwise impossible notions or invisible plots."
"Mapping Heaven" presents works that give a physicality to the intangible concepts and thoughts that are held in the nethers of our minds, where the phenomena of creative and imaginative understanding flourishes.
Babette Allina works at the juncture of science and art and has produced a vertigo inducing installation that references celestial navigation. Originally produced for the Ladd Observatory, "Signs of Life" is a film of the extreme tides on the Bay of Fundy projected onto racing boat sails.
Sally Curcio's series, "Bubble" uses materials such as pins, beads, false eyelashes, etc. to create miniature worlds enclosed under acrylic bubbles. During this time of economic, political and environmental uncertainty this work offers a dream of a safe protected environment and a nostalgia for mythical or fairytale worlds of childhood.
For Allen Hansen being involved with the American landscape tradition has led to using diagraming architecturally, a different type of landscape that has as its reference only abstract ideals.
Dennis Hlynsky is an American artist making mesmerizing recordings of the flights, swarms and musters of urban wildlife as a means of imagining the bedlam of shambolic behavior.
With unique permission to paint alone in the Roman catacombs, Thomas Lyon Mills examines the elasticity of time and the necessity of dreams: where the observed and the intuitive lie side by side and where the seen pays a constant debt to the unseen.
Igor Molochevski's "Invisible Beast" is an interactive performance of subversive reverence in which vibrations created in an antique Buddhist prayer bowl are analyzed and displayed as a visualization of "String Theory" equations.
Within her work Lindsey Nobel has "developed a drawing language based on the otherwise invisible connections between humans and machines, effectively manifesting the immense grid of energy that now exists between human, machine, and spiritual consciousness. Humans found, or perhaps even invented, that consciousness, and we are now mapping it with our newest technologies, technologies that weave us together and make the universe that much smaller — small enough to fit onto a painting or even a sheet of paper.
Patricia Smith's mapping works are the result of an elaborate process of combining layers of text with spontaneous drawing and information transposed from city maps, in an attempt to give shape to the space within the mind and to poke fun at its distorted record-keeping of lived experience. Her large format painting on neoprene rubber, Night Vision, is a more abstract vision of archetypal forms embedded within the collective unconscious.
The feature of maps that most resonates with LaPrade Seuthe is their capacity tomake distant things seem close, and to represent close things as distant. In star(dust) to star(dust)the night sky culled from google maps is the source image. And while stars are hundredsof millions of miles away, we still are able to see some aspect of them withour bare eyes, and even turn to their constellations as maps to chart ourlives.
Larry Walczak's MOLEcule is a painting/collage combination on canvas. It illustrates a hypothetical diagram that overlaps elements of the scientific & spiritual worlds.