Past Exhibition | back to list

Shrines and Altars: Optical Fragments from the Interior

January 2, 2016 - February 28, 2016
Studio 4 Gallery

Artist Statement by Eric B. Johnson
This series can be seen as psychic snapshots of my interior world produced during an intense period of transformation. Built out of optical fragments, they are narratives that chronicle an increasing self-awareness and a range of states of mind. I hope they find some universality in their final form as we all seek our own interior self-awareness within a media saturated/consumer culture.

The series began with a desire to use images I made as a freshman in college in 1968 of Robert Kennedy and Richard Nixon. Seeing the remarkable parallels in the eras, I felt it imperative to look back and bring these images forward. Through many variations, I began to move beyond the images of Nixon and Bobby Kennedy to a more interior space. Having recently emptied out my mother’s storage unit after her death, I found all sorts of interesting objects that would bring another personal and evocative layer into the work. I also realized that machine parts I had saved years ago that had been used to build whimsical robots by a good friend would add another contrasting personal layer. I often use postcards of famous artworks as a kind of foil or provocation to extrapolate in the constructions. Finally, I used ubiquitous items referencing our contemporary “Home Depot” / “Best Buy” culture to further the contrasts in the narrative.

The creative process started simply as I arranged objects and images that evolved into in an increasingly complex structure, sometimes in gravity defying balance. A motley crew of elements became a story, melding together under the fire of light. The process would build and flow with ritual intensity until the light failed. I came to see the stage as a space where kinetic energy and diaphanous layers interacted with objects, textures, and light to build an image that had a sculptural and physical presence. The final image was built out of these optical fragments and gestures made during the shooting session. The result is a blending of sculpture, painting, and photography. Both intoxicatingly fun and grueling, this alchemical path, for me, opened the door to a true chamber of wonders.

Methods
Images are assembled from a selection of 15-25 drawn from over 70 or more separate digital photographs taken during each session. The images are layered and selected parts are “painted though” to a base layer. This creates “optical fragments.” Thus, these works are in the vein of Rauschenberg’s “Combines’ from the 1950’s – they are hybrids located between painting, sculpture and photography. All pieces are archival pigment prints using Epson’s latest HDR inks.

Exhibition Special Events
Art After Dark Paso Opening Reception
Saturday, February 6: 6 pm - 9 pm

Artist Talk
Saturday, February 6: 7:30 pm - 8 pm

Art After Dark Paso Opening Reception
Saturday, January 2: 6 pm - 9 pm