ABOUT THE SHOW
Ghost Town Planet, an installation, is a walk-through environment of our
mother planet in a process of transformation. Life forms die and decay,
creating sustenance for future generations. Civilizations fall, and others
emerge slowly over time. Ruination lays bare the underlying structures of
a limitless variety of life forms from the animal and plant kingdoms.
Ghost Town Planet reveals the remnants of lives that were slowly being
swallowed by lives that will be. Nature is a powerful force that
consistently through time has succumbed to death and destruction yet
prevailed in its insistence on bringing forth new life again. We humans
build cities, gather together in villages, create homes, join with nature,
defy her, live in awe of nature’s beauty and go to great lengths to
annihilate it. Out of this elemental striving and conflict there at times
comes a great deal of beauty and an understanding of the ephemeral nature
of life as we know it. Fifteen artists come together at the NAVE Gallery
to explore ideas of ruination, decay, rebirth, and spirituality.
It's already happening. It's all around us. And it's really quite beautiful.
My color, infrared photography is an exploration of entropy and how
the things we build are changed over time by this force of nature.
Put simply: we make things, we use them, they break, we discard them,
they wear away. It's an aspect of the natural world that we don't
often stop to consider and one in which I see great beauty. It
applies to our things, to us (individually and as a species), to our
planet, and eventually to the universe itself. It's all one big ghost
The infrared photographs I create are real-world, contemporary,
moments in time, photographed in light our eyes cannot perceive. The
appear strangely dreamlike and unreal but are just as valid as the
view out our windows.
I am a co-curator of and participating artist in Ghost Town Planet. I have always been attracted to ruins and abandoned places, and can happily spend weeks tracking down remote ghost towns out west or exploring deserted buildings in rural New England. I collect and forage and bring home the relics I find. Themes of rebirth and renewal figure prominently in my work, and objects that shine with the patina of age and history and past life are the objects most attractive to me. I feel a part of nature but as an urban dweller frequently feel disconnected from it. All of the artists who are exhibiting in this show in some way responded to an underlying understanding that we are all connected in powerful ways to nature and other living things, and that death and decay are necessary for new life to spring forth. I hope that this exhibit inspires viewers with wonder and an appreciation of the beauty that comes from ruination and rebirth.
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In the South, the kudzu vine blankets the landscape, turning it into a
dance of graceful ghostlike creatures. This annual vine grows up to a foot
a day. At the first frost it dies, revealing the skeletal remains of the
trees and bushes underneath. It arrived in America in 1876 as part of a
Japanese exhibit of “ornamental plants” at the Philadelphia Centennial
Exposition, and was subsequently planted by the Soil Conservation Service
during the Depression for erosion control. It has now consumed seven
million acres in the South.
These photographs were made during a residency at the Virginia Center for
the Creative Arts, the kudzu just outside my studio window. To make the
images I used either a toy plastic camera or a homemade pinhole camera
fashioned from a popcorn tin. I was entranced but also horrified that
something so lovely could also be so strangling and deadly.
Sometimes the road to hell does seem to be paved with good intentions.
It’s about the light. Against a backdrop of vivid skies, chaotic spaces,
and dark landscapes, bold silhouettes and glowing beings appear. These
pictures present a tale of spirits in search of an elusive light. These
are visions of hope, of determination, of spirituality.
In Street Flare we see a crowd entranced by golden light flooding a
commercial street while a curious onlooker is left untouched and in the
dark. These seekers have found their own path toward the light.
Ghost Riders shows the lucky ones, those who have attained their goal and
have finally found their own inner light. This inner light prevails
against the surrounding darkness.
It's about illumination. It's about who we are and what we seek.
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My works are called I-Scapes (Imaginary Timescapes). They begin as private installations that I build, photograph, and then dismantle. I-Scapes represent mysterious states of mind that exist somewhere beyond the ordinary conscious world. Humans, animals, or their spirits may have recently tread within their borders.
Some I-Scapes are grounded in history. One image, with its cross-like idol, illustrates a real-life drama--the reclamation of sacred land during the 1930ís by reindeer nomads in the Russian tundra. Another image framing a ladder asks the question, which path should we take? Are we descending to a newly revived earth or ascending to the welcoming light above? Hope, redemption and peace are promised either way.
Pulled from my own memories, dreams, experiences, and knowledge the resulting I-Scapes are my impression of places and events -- and the feelings they evoke. Yet I leave enough unsaid that viewers can explore them through their own lens and imagine storylines of their own.
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Gretjen Helene Hargesheimer
These selections from my current work focus on the interaction of
two entities assimilating into One and the alterations that can
veil the individual in the process. This concept involves themes of
procreation, birth, death, and the levels of reliance that can
alter the process. Dedication, struggle, rebirth, support, and the
possibilities that lie in hope are the themes webbed together,
throughout my imagery, within shapes and physical relationships.
The dark style and eerie forms involved, relate to the balance
between purity and turmoil during such a fragile and precious
purpose; the birth of something new. This imagery has potential to
visually reveal elements of a decomposing world with hope for its
rebirth. Thematically a parallel can be drawn between the struggle
in companionship between two individuals and the struggle between
humanity and earth.
My current work with black roses is informed by familiar themes: courage in the face of obstacles and strife, mourning for lost love, sorrow over betrayal, and forgiveness as an act of grace. The lush, rich velvety black roses, made from torn and folded strips of tarpaper and massed on painted plywood to form an abstract multifaceted surface, together with the shadows cast on the wall, are a powerful iconography, and draw viewers close. Some people love them, as I do, and find them hauntingly beautiful and reach out to touch the surface. Others react with horror and dismissal, responding to overtones of death and morbidity that they perceive from the black rose. In either case, the scale of the work and the depth of the presentation combine with each person’s subconscious interpretation of the image to create a provocative visual statement.
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Adam Scott Miller
In my view, art serves as a reflection of our context, and achieves its
maximum potential when it acts deliberately to improve and benefit the
whole. My work is multifaceted, but with a continuum of integrating diverse
perspectives; including science, mythology, geometry, and sociopolitics into
mystic visions of gestalt. This information absorption is filtered through
my own sensibilities and rendered out as my art.
I wish to bridge the perceived gap between logical, materialistic analysis
and intuitive, mystical experience. My directive as an artist is to engage
and communicate the meaning that lies before our eyes, and yet we do not
see. I attempt to point to the 'numinous', which is characterized by the
quintessential qualities of the sacred: mystery, awe, fascination,
satisfaction, and inspiration.
My two paintings included in this show were the result of contemplating the
logistics of suffering and finding hope with the potentiality of revelation.
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The work I create first originates as a response to sites and objects
that are ignored such as piles of trash, alleyways, overpasses or
abandoned structures. In most instances the locations that I have
shot in are not desirable travel destinations, are generally working
class and are in industrial areas. This type of space has a personal
resonance for me as I grew up in a very similar location in New
England. I have a strong emotional connection, knowledge and
familiarity with this kind of locality and want to document it in all
of its poignant beauty.
As well, transitory space more accurately documents the mood of a
place than public space that can be sterile and lifeless. Transitory
spaces have a messy human energy that is always in the present. In
such sites time passing is at its most beautiful as individuals or
groups try to make a fragile mark on their surrounding. I’m not
interested in transitory spaces for political reasons. I simply find
them endlessly interesting, alive spaces where there is a great deal
of beauty, fragility and human striving. They are temporary monuments
to the ephemeral nature of human existence.
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Listening to Democracy Now! (www.democracynow.org) I heard a report about then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld. When out of government service during the 1990’s Rumsfeld’s favorite activity was taking part in simulated war games that blew up the East Coast. Why was such a person in government at all, much less Secretary of Defense?
There was only one solution to such madness. I painted a magic bird (a dove) that sprang forth to repel such destructive activity and protect humanity and planet earth.
Nuclear annihilation and climate change confront humanity. Any possibility of a future here on earth depends on our ability to imagine the solutions to the problems facing us and then to organize on every level of society to bring about the changes we need.
This painting is a small contribution to that great undertaking.
The physical presence of a city is created out of a collection of buildings
and spaces. Each building is imagined, designed, and then constructed.
This pattern, repeated dozens, hundreds, thousands of times, for countless
structures, creates something bigger, something far beyond the scope of any
single building. This is the thing we call a city.
If a city were emptied, if life ceased to exist, the structures we have
created would tell much about the beings who created them. When these
structures are stripped to their frames, their scale, complexity, geometry,
and design reflect the lives they once supported. My sculpture explores the
overwhelming complexity and underlying simplicity of our cities and their
inhabitants, even when stripped bare.
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Marcella Anna Stasa
I can't help myself.
In an apocalyptic future where not only genetic
engineering but extreme genetic mutations caused by
enviromental pollutants are the norm, I take comfort
in the fact that I'll at least be able to talk to my dog.
Although we haven't yet turned our planet into a ghost town, human civilizations and cultures are dying--and being reborn--all the time. The process takes place over such a long time span that we seldom notice. Texts in ancient languages lose their original meanings as their cultural context evaporates, but their age and very survival imbue them with new meaning and importance for us. Archeologists recover old tools and artifacts whose purposes must be gradually puzzled out, because we've lost the knowledge that once accompanied their commonplace use. Eroded statues and faded markings, the work of people whose intentions we can only guess, are now enshrined in museums as reminders of what we've lost and warnings of our cultural fate. These few images capture some of the objects and markings whose use and meaning are already starting to fade, perhaps to become cause for wonder in future generations.