Equity Gallery opened its fall season with the solo exhibition Remote Sensing, which features new work by Brooklyn-based artist Karen Lee Williams.
The exhibition’s title is taken from the scientific term that refers to the scanning of the earth by satellite or high-flying aircraft in order to obtain information about it. Taking cue, freestanding and hanging sculptures are situated throughout the gallery space to evoke an environment of observation, but with a twist. Using materials such as concrete, rope, muslin, and wood, Lee Williams makes objects that appear to be in a transient state – solid and fixed, yet malleable and shifting. Mysterious, even beautiful at times, they challenge objective observation and scientific reasoning.
Ivory Vibrant Cloud, 2016 is a hanging sculpture made from a rug backing and cotton rope. It presents a blue grid, similar to the grid in scientific notebooks, which has been dipped in purple dye at the bottom. Long chords of rope curiously appear from a hole near the top of the grid and descend into a knot before meeting the gallery floor in dramatic effect.
Porthole/Portal, 2015 depicts a cyanotype photogram on an irregularly shaped canvas of unprimed muslin. Shaped as a sphere, the photogram shows horizontal lines in varying shades of blue. By setting the sphere against the off-white background, Lee Williams leaves the image open to interpretation. Are we looking out from a porthole of a ship to a vast blue sea? Or are we looking at a portal opening up to a secret realm?
Rose Hills, 2016 presents three freestanding concrete cylinders rising up from the gallery floor. Each cylinder is composed of layers that vary in texture and colors ranging from gray, pink and lavender. Upon first impression, they look like layers of sedimentary rock that have been corked straight from the earth. But their soft, pastel hues contrast with the more usual earth tones, leaving us to ponder their location of origin.
Remote Sensing offers multiple experiences for the viewer. Walking through the exhibition, one starts to feel they are surveying a landscape of scientific things. They are unrecognizable, but that is fine because knowing what they are is the job of scientists. However, there comes a point in the viewing experience when we reach a crossroads. Are we to accept Lee William’s work as natural phenomena that should be studied objectively? Or is there something more at play, a mystical force best sensed with intuition?
Remote Sensing is on view at Equity Gallery through October 15, 2016.