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Sarah Hulsey and Rhonda Smith Chart New Territory at the Chandler Gallery

Submitted by on January 21, 2016 – 3:57 pmNo Comment

Painter Rhonda Smith and printmaker Sarah Hulsey are turning cartography on its head. Their upcoming show at the Chandler Gallery, “Schemata,” showcases the artists’ different approaches to mapping as metaphor. Hulsey combines theoretical linguistics with historical diagrams to create pictorial representations of words and ideas, while Smith’s abstract paintings evoke geological forces in motion.

Sarah Hulsey - Hydrogen-1 artworkHulsey says that printmaking, with its emphasis on “repetition, seriality, and discrete marks built up into larger forms,” allows her to “visualize the complex systems behind language.” Hulsey’s “Hydrogen” looks like a diagram of a molecule: black lines connect three distinct groups of symbols enclosed in circles. But the symbols in each unit are linguistic, rather than chemical. Each unit is a syllable in the word “hy-dro-gen,” and each unit contains the phonemes that comprise that syllable. Just as atoms are the building blocks of matter, Hulsey constructs names of chemical elements from their phonemes, the building blocks of speech. The viewer also participates in creating the meaning of the words in the installation by decoding the phonemes and assembling the syllables.

Rhonda Smith - That Awful Mess -artworkIn contrast to Hulsey’s symbol-based cerebral puzzles, Smith’s works are explosions of color and texture. As Smith investigates the collision of land and water, her paintings rise from the walls, nearly crossing the border into hanging sculpture. “That Awful Mess” is a swirl of reds and green-grays coalescing in a 3D centerpiece of smooth lumps, twisted strings, and gritty silt. It could be a close-up view of the tide encroaching on a bed of seaweed or an aerial view of a coastal city. Smith is fascinated by “the human impulse to explore what is around the next bend…[and] to allow the unknown to impress itself upon us.” The artwork in “Schemata” offers plenty to explore.

Schemata: Works by Sarah Hulsey and Rhonda Smith” is on display at the Chandler Gallery from February 15-March 11. The opening reception will be held on February 18 from 6:00-8:00 pm.

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