Space Considered: A Review of Remembrancer at Indian Hill Gallery

By Candice van Loveren Geis 

Described as one who both reminds of something and is also a reminder itself, Remembrancer is the title of the current exhibition at the Indian Hill Gallery. It places the work of Lisa Merida-Paytes, Robert Pulley, and Patrice Trauth in a manner that allows consideration of scale, space, light, materiality, and the self. Although the visage of the Indian Hill Gallery is unassuming, seeing these works in person is a much different experience compared to viewing the work on the gallery’s website. Contrary to what often occurs when entering a gallery, the largest piece in the exhibition does not monopolize attention due to its placement and color. The visual weight of the smaller artworks takes charge, particularly in the work by Pulley. Utilizing stoneware clay, the textures and natural variations of color invite the eye to slide down the body of each piece and gently caress the spaces held within. Such spaces cannot be referred to as negative. Rather they are the most impactful spaces in each of Pulley’s sculptures.

A Point in Time by Robert Pulley

Placed against walls, some of Pulley’s work is visually heavy, communicating almost as broken natural stone. Whereas the work that can easily be viewed in the round leans into landscape and figural realms, especially when visually combined with the surrounding pieces. Passage by Pulley is engaging in the gallery with nearby works Within One’s Memory #1 and #2 and SPINE SERIES, Vertebrae. It can also fit well in an outdoor setting playing with the idea of fine internal spaces that reflect natural elements, similar to the compositional discussion happening in the gallery. The visual interaction of Trauth’s encaustic landscapes brings the outdoors in and relates easily with the actual physical spaces in the work by Merida-Paytes and Pulley.

Passage by Robert Pulley.

Assemblages of mixed media and encaustic by Trauth present as relief sculptures dominated by dark tones with sparse highlights when viewed from a distance. Upon close inspection, small details join to form a narrative or metaphor through each found object suspended in encaustic. Tiny hands, shells, beads, and metal flow into irregular patterns, engaging visually with the stoneware and paperclay pieces in the show. Canticle, Multicultural Goddess, and Witness to the Light weigh visually heavy in the space compared to the encaustic landscapes by the same artist that lighten the frames in which they are contained. The complexity of the symbol systems developed through found objects promotes self-reflection and consideration of global spiritual elements. 

Within One’s Memory #2 and Within One’s Memory #1 by Patrice Trauth (exhibited with #2 on the left)

Lisa Merida-Paytes’ Sketch for Glass Fish is the most intimate work in the show and is placed in dichotomy to the largest piece in the exhibition, also created by Merida-Paytes. It communicates both as a landscape and as part of the human form. Such a connection is made meaningful after a review of the artist’s statement self-identifying as an artist with Ataxia. The work physically demonstrates changes in the artist’s body while pulling imagery from the landscape shared by all. The paperclay is rough on the surface like raw earth and like a used human body. Bubbles, cracks, and copper wires inside the glass simulate water, nerves traveling under skin, and the bones of a fish. Black and subtle hints of blue escape the earthy tones to form intricate layers for personal reflection within a global context. The works by Merida-Paytes made out of paper clay are biological almost imitating bone taken out of the body for examination.

SPINE SERIES: Sketch for Glass Fish by Lisa Merida-Paytes

The largest piece in the exhibition, ANAMORPHOSIS SERIES: Stasis II by Merida-Paytes, is a soft, cloud like form suspended in space. The only distraction is the reflective line that holds up the work made of paper, liquid starch, and stain. Online the sculpture appears almost solid and weighty. In person, the viewer can move around the sculptural form, peeking inside to more complex line work and even sliding under to allow the patterning to envelop the space. With blended staining, the soft shifts in blues to greens to yellows and bright red-orange accents carry the line work in the cut paper beyond the physical space. Viewing this sculpture from every angle catches the fluid motion of light and color that constantly change with each perspective. The textural elements iterated throughout Remembrancer tie the work from three artists to universal truths of art, self, earth, and life. 

ANAMORPHOSIS SERIES: Stasis II by Lisa Merida-Paytes

Indian Hill Gallery through May 15, 2022