The exhibition for artiist R. Nelson Parrish, entitled Surface Tension, presents a new suite of standing totems and wall sculptures comprised of resin, fiberglass, pigmented color, and wood. The objects are a hybrid of both painting and sculpture and visually reference a diverse range of cultures including the tribal traditions of the Pacific Northwest Native Americans and Southern California's pervasive cottage industries of surfboard construction and custom cars.
Parrish employs an intricate and labor-intensive method to craft his artworks from native Alaskan woods requiring hand applied paints and numerous hand rubbed coats of resin – taking months to bring to completion. The results are works which point to the subtle contradictions between the glass like surfaces, layers of diffused and translucent color, and the seemingly unfinished planks below.
Evoking colors of the American West, layered bands of color, emerge and deflect different tones that are characteristic of particular natural environments yet for the artist, the work is a greater inquiry into the qualities of both the natural and the synthetic. “(Parrish) invites us to re-think our notion of the boundaries and lines between the natural, original source and the designed, processed and developed object,” states art historian Dorothea Schoene in an introductory essay that will accompany the exhibition.
Born in Fairbanks, Alaska and having recently received his MFA from UC Santa Barbara, Parrish uniquely contributes to the vocabulary of West Coast Minimalism. Inverting the West Coast’s “Finish Fetish” aesthetics, Parrish builds his work with a myriad of visual sources and delights in what he calls “racing stripes”.