Opening Reception: Thursday, June 2 from 6pm to 9pm
Artists Jessica Van Brakle, a local DC painter, New York-based Steve Miller, and ceramic artist Jon McMillan, each address man’s tangled relationship with the natural world. Jessica’s dynamic, graphic ink and acrylic paintings, inject heavy machinery into silhouetted landscapes in her “Tropical Obstructions” series. She draws our attention to the oversized cranes and bulldozers with bold colors against the backdrop of her gardens of black foliage. Her artwork walks us down two paths of interpretation: – one hints that man’s intervention into the peaceful state of Eden is careening us toward climate change and global disaster. Her intruding excavators are metaphors for mankind digging its own grave. The other path leads us to reflect on the creative potential for taming that wild terrain in the manner of architects and landscape designers – like our gallery hosts. Before one can stroll through even the most bucolic and beautiful Olmsted garden or Gehry masterpiece – cranes and bulldozers are launched. Man’s built environment begins with that obstructing crane for better and worse.
Steve Miller is better at the worse. Mining what is invisible to the naked eye, he creates hauntingly beautiful images highlighting the loss of habitat caused by humans. Miller’s collaborations with scientists have been shown worldwide and celebrated by the National Academy of Sciences with two solo exhibitions, his latest, “Health of the Planet” in 2017. His book “Radiographic: X-Ray Photo Inventions” is a collection of images from his work in the Amazon with an essay by famed ecologist Carl Safina.
“Steve Miller uses x-rays, MRI scans and satellite imagery to reveal an eerie, unseen side of nature.”, The Guardian
Working with neurobiologist Rod MacKinnon, and high-tech instruments, electron microscopes, MRI machines and satellite imagery, Miller reveals the actual earthly patterns of systematic deforestation and creates potent canvases outlining acres of erased Brazilian rainforest. The fading flora and fauna, victims of devastating loss of habitat are represented by their laboratory x-ray portraits. Most poignant is the radiograph of the pregnant sloth and unborn baby superimposed with the outlined shapes of their shrinking future forest.
We are in awe of Miller’s use of sophisticated scientific machinery produced by our “advanced civilization” to artfully expose the stripping of the materials that build those advanced civilizations and the developing societies that aspire to the same.
Finally the floating ceramic shape-shifting cloud forms, “Strattos” by Jon McMillan as shown at the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts, contain hidden references, morphing with your imagination over any obstructions in the landscape.
The exhibition is located at 609 H Street NE, 6th fl.