David Richard Gallery presents The Common, Heather McGill’s first solo exhibition with the Gallery.
Debuting a new body of mixed media artworks where everyday, readymade materials are transformed into intricate patterns and stunning compositions. This flip from common to uncommon occurs through McGill’s highly skilled process of laser cutting and airbrushing these materials then layering them into dense collages that reference Pop culture, psychedelia, pattern and decoration as well as primitive cultures and modernism.
Cultural and art historical references abound in McGill’s work along with her unique ability and art making practice where opposing concepts come together and meld into one successful union: hand-made and machine-made, low art and high art, nature and high tech, feminine and masculine. The laser cut paper is exquisitely airbrushed using inexpensive readymade lace and textiles by the yard for stencils. These patterns are mostly from the natural world, including flowers, butterflies, spider webs and such; they are also evocative of the 1960s and 70s trippy psychedelic patterns and artworks. These spectacular elements are then assembled and layered on a similarly painted backer board drilled with hundreds of holes so that the collaged pieces can be sewn together using beads for additional support and ornamentation. The entire assembly is full of patterns, colors, details and motifs; each viewing brings something different to the foreground, making them fresh and dynamic. For McGill, well, less is just less and when invited to dine at her table, there is no FHB (a.k.a family hold back).
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 included 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.Courtesy of the artist and David Richard Gallery