Sunday, October 1st, 2006

A Magically-Engendered World: Amy Myers at Mike Weiss

Amy Myers: The Particle Zoo at Mike Weiss Gallery

September 7 to October 7, 2006

Amy Myers, Chroma Zoma Bubble Chamber, 2006. Graphite , colored pencil and soft pastel on paper, 88 x 90 inches. Courtesy Mike Weiss Gallery
Amy Myers, Chroma Zoma Bubble Chamber, 2006. Graphite , colored pencil and soft pastel on paper, 88 x 90 inches. Courtesy Mike Weiss Gallery

When making art, how much does the artist rely on logic and how much on intuition? Sometimes an artist attributes more to one than the other when discussing his or her art. Amy Myers, daughter of a particle physicist, alludes to the “internal logic of things”* as being central to her approach to drawing. “There is a scientific reason behind everything,” she has said.  And yet, as we look at these graphite and pastel markings which appear to float atop, tug at, and burrow into the very paper on which they are drawn, we have strong emotional responses. Many artists have used a language of biomorphic shapes and forms; some with full acknowledgement of doing so, others not. Baziotes openly referred to marine life, Gorky alluded to botanical imagery and Lee Bontecou has often suggested life processes in her constructions.On the other hand, Garth Evans rejects the notion of organicism in connection with his decidedly zoomorphic sculptures and Amy Myers feels that a thorough investigation of physics lies at the heart of her work.

Consciously she refers to subatomic particles, galactic forces and sexual organs, but what our eyes perceive is a magically engendered, non-specific world, in which elements tenuously exist in an activated space and in a constant state of metamorphosis. She may be thinking about science, but what she has evolved is a mysterious and tenuous world.

Sheets of paper, typically six or eight of them, each measuring 30” x 44”, are tacked directly to the wall. Then cells, chambers and membranous elements are delicately inscribed on either a light or dark ground. Blank surfaces are transformed into vaporous worlds in which diaphanous units flicker, dart and actively probe their way through space. Myers creates forms that emerge from and submerge into the fluid universe of her grounds.She often begins the drawing on a single sheet, allowing it to develop “according to the inquiry” that forms the basis of her working process, adding sheets as the drawing “grows.”

In Chroma Zoma Bubble Chamber, (2006) concentric chromatic circles evolve into chambers that radiate inwards and outwards, forming an illusory entryway into the paper itself. The circles radiate and absorb light. Occasionally, a Rococo delicacy and coy prettiness get the upper hand of Myers compositions. Heliosyntrophy, (2006) in spite of its portentous title, is a bubbly, opalescent, cloud-like, and dainty confection of a drawing. In contrast to this, Opera Beyond Light, (2006) is a vigorous and active composition. On a deep gray surface luminous lines spin through space as their glowing filaments evoke a multi-dimensional world.

Perhaps it is the harmonious marriage of logic and intuition that makes these drawing so compelling. Scientific references abound, but they are never obvious or overly specific.   Instead of being thrust at the viewer, they have been absorbed and then transformed into a totally personal and enigmatic amalgam.

Finally, the visual world of Amy Myers puzzles you. At their best, her drawings are alluring and engaging. They intrigue because they do not provide full disclosure. You just want to keep looking at them and figuring them out.

* All quotes are taken from an interview with Mary-Kay Lombino, University Art Museum, CSU, Long Beach, California, 2000