Opening reception: Wednesday 25 May, 4pm-7pm
David Richard Gallery debuts Heather McGill’s newest body of artwork in the presentation, Invisible Bloom, her second solo with the Gallery.
The presentation includes 10 new paintings produced over the past 30 months during the pandemic. The new paintings were created with the artist’s novel process as she describes in the statement bellow. The compositions are abstract while the imagery is from the natural world and specifically from readymade fabrics and lace mass produced for women’s clothing and draperies. Each painting has many layers of imagery and paint that is then sanded to reveal colors and patterns below. Looking closer reveals floral and insect motifs bringing nature into the patterning and overall psychedelic feel as well as designs from iconic fashion designers.
Art historical references, numerous binaries, and subversions anchor the new work in painting, but McGill’s processes are rooted in sculpture, which dominated most of her studio practice and teaching career. Hence, the casting process with gel medium and textiles as stencils for patterns and imagery, as well as the use of automotive paints and lacquers comes naturally to the artist. The additions of painted and coordinated imagery on borders, and often more than one, functions as a frame, but also adds dimensionality and depth to the paintings and hence, making them object-like and co-locating them as sculpture.
Heather McGill’s Statement About This Exhibition And Artwork:
My process involves painting and casting patterns onto the surface of wood substates using woven or knit fabrics as stencils. A trick borrowed from car customizers, who in the early 1960’s transferred floral patterns to the hood of their cars by spraying lacquer through lingerie lace, forever fusing the female body with the automotive. I use cloth that is mass-produced and endlessly duplicated primarily for women’s apparel of which floral patterns are the most popular. I am drawn to the formalizing of the natural world found in the iconography of these textiles-representations of butterflies, flowers and spider webs organized within the repeating structure of the woven cloth. These fabrics are neither unique nor costly and their shelf life is subject to the tyranny of trends and fashion. As a result, they provide a readymade stencil sold by the yard, a stencil that reflects contemporary and historical pattern, decoration, and taste.
Twenty-five years ago I moved to the suburbs of Detroit and became proficient at applying automotive surfacers, such as lacquer and urethane paints to my sculpture. I continue to use these skills today, spraying multiple coats of pigment to achieve a seamless and mechanized look. The material structure is achieved by casting successive floral patterns using a stenciling method to either block or retain information beneath, creating a luscious layering of floral figure/ground. Within most fabric stores there lies the “save-the-date” section, selections of bridal fabrics with unabashed sequin and pearl decoration, pale coloration, it is here where I harvest my most fruitful patterns. Within this process of transferring visual information from fabric to panel, I imbue a transmutation of meaning, economy and context or a reflection of things exactly as they are.
About Heather McGill:
Heather McGill received her MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute, but some of her greatest influences were from her earlier studies at UC Davis where she studied with Robert Arneson, Manuel Neri, Roy De Forest and Wayne Thiebaud. A little further south in California, the Finish Fetish group in Los Angeles also had a significant impact on her work— especially the Dentoseries by Billy Al Bengston—particularly regarding her sculptures and work with acrylic plastic. McGill was trained in sculpture, so her hands-on approach with various materials and mechanical processes comes naturally to her. The artist’s works, whether three-dimensional sculptures or two-dimensional wall pieces, are concerned with the formal properties of “pattern, color and space”. McGill’s 26-year teaching career at the Cranbrook Academy of Art in Detroit where the automation and mass production of automobiles, development of novel plastics, resins and other materials along with the spectacular autobody paint colors and lacquers has had a long-lasting impact on her work and become a recurring theme influencing her processes and work.
Exhibiting in museums and galleries nationally and internationally since 1984, McGill’s artworks have been reviewed in Artforum, Art In America, ART News, ART PAPERS, New York Times, Los Angeles Times and the Boston Globe among numerous other publications. Her artworks are ncludeed in the permanent collections of Albright Knox, Buffalo, NY, Detroit Institute of Arts Museum, MI, Miami Art Museum, FL, Hood Art Museum, Dartmouth College, Hanover, NH, The Kresge Art Museum, The Progressive Art Collection, Daimler Chrysler World Headquarters, Auburn Hills, MI, and Fidelity Investments, Boston, MA among numerous other public and private collections.
© Heather McGill. Courtesy David Richard Gallery. All Installation Photographs by Yao Zu Lu