“…in this backyard garden of the mind…”
“…in this backyard garden of the mind…” is a mixed media installation, on display at Gallery A3, Amherst, MA from November 4th-27th. Debris, organic and inorganic found matter, mesh, and photographic images form low-relief ‘configurations’ and large photographic images are interspersed within sculptural elements. The installation is the outgrowth of a year-long creative investigation and reflective practice of matter, perception, and how we see. It questions what appears to be solid, true, or real yet is constantly changes depending on ones view and the conditions surrounding the object or within the viewer. Set within the container of my backyard garden and outdoor studio, both the process and material reflect the impact of time, weather, seasons, the elements, and forces of nature, and factors of the mind/body/heart that interrupt or act upon matter and maker. What you see is the harvest, and what you, the viewer, bring to the experience of dwelling within this ‘garden’.
Rebecca Muller and Valerie Gilman were invited by Gallery A3, Amherst, MA, to initiate an expanded vision of how to use the gallery space, limited to ‘window exhibitions’ while galleries and businesses were closed. The two developed ‘Limited Access’ on display September, 2020 – as an embodied investigation of matter, obfuscation, singularity, loss, separation and restoration as we share a breathing space.
Space punctuated by hanging diaphanous mesh. Articulated by weighted metal lines and rusted ribbons – drawing in space. Planes and line inhabit the space between ceiling, walls and floor. Here visible, now obscure. The eye moves in. The mind begins its dialogue of naming: What is it? What does it mean? Why did?
We enter a dialogue: what if we do this… I’m curious to see what happens if… Let’s just try it. Reflect, observe, listen, clarify, change. Trans-form, Again and Again. In-Folding. Unfolding. In-folding. Unfolding. Will I write a riff off what you say? How do we heal our suffering body, community, planet? Fully see the unseen, discounted, dehumanized, seen through, erased, an other?
Let us scrape off our old writing, make a new weaving through the still visible traces of the past. Create a palimpsest time.
Growth / Overgrowth
“Growth/Overgrowth” was installed at the Oxbow Gallery, Northampton, MA in November, 2018. Implemented in collaboration with Mary Bernstein and Harriet Diamond, the piece investigates and makes manifest the contradictory experience of one family of the anticipated birth of a first grandchild in counterpoint to receiving the news of a re-occurrence of stage four cancer. The artists manipulate natural material to create an environment representing unchecked growth that has gone awry.
I keep finding myself in the place I am.
Muller brings photographs suspended mid-air together with an array of found and reclaimed materials. Stone, discarded foundry glass, steel rod and rebar from demolished infrastructures, metal grid/mesh, and miscellaneous hanging/installation material find their way into this series, at Gallery A3, September, 2018. “I am pulled toward things that have had a ‘previous life, or function’. she says. For over 30 years, her studio practice has involved re-contextualizing discarded debris in constructions and assemblages. “I’m deeply interested in the reality that everything changes, and permanency is an illusion. Consequently, the primary focus of my work is embodying the sense of the ephemeral.
The Weight of Things
In this mixed-media installation at Gallery A3, Amherst in September, 2016, Muller explores the impact of force upon matter using found material. Force: real or implied, leaves a residue. It can be important, heavy, burdensome, loaded, biased, potent and powerful. Muller creates a visual dialogue between the maker and the material, the material and the viewer. She asks us to explore concepts associated with the weight of things. What does weight mean? how do things “weigh” on us? How do we tread lightly in the space between?
“Rise and Fall”, is the central mixed media sculptural installation by Rebecca Muller and Harriet Diamond, in the inaugural show at the Deerfield Academy Hess Art Center’s new von Auersperg Gallery, curated by Tim Trelease in September, 2015. The exhibition reveals the profound relationship -and subsequent responsibility- that exists between humans and the earth. The show highlights the notion of unconventional beauty, that invites viewers to reflect on the daunting question: “what impact are we having on this planet that we share?”
September 2014 at Gallery A3. An installation by Rebecca Muller of small constructions made from shards of metal, and site-specific constructions of rebar and wire mesh. The materials bear the marks of erosion, and carry the impact of time and weather on matter. Circular pieces, punctuated by long narrow marks, spiral across a long wall and form a kind of timeline. Muller’s work is often visually anchored by wire or cloth mesh that form a grid. Muller explores the concept of perceptual displacement: where we stand shifts the way we see things.
Bridges to Cross / Bridges to Burn
An installation with Mary Bernstein and Harriet Diamond. A.P.E. Gallery, Northampton, MA. November 9 – December 2, 2012
Time is a coil of netting unrolling our story, randomly snaring matter and memory in its path. It relentlessly captures some contents and releases others – the core obscured by the accumulation of memory and experience. Is this accretion a meaningful collection of treasures, or simply stories we tell ourselves to make the inevitable detritus of our lives special? Does it merit the memories or deserve to remain beyond our corporeal existence? If there comes a time when our carefully tended choices, our random paths become unsupportable, how do we puncture the net, clear the tangle, simplify, un-wind?
What if We Just Stopped Here
This Way, That
Mixed media installation, from the August 2013 group exhibit at Gallery A3.
The Other Side of the Bridge
Installation. April, 2013
The Other Side of the Bridge reuse and re-contextualize components from the original Bridges to Cross/Bridges to Burn, which premiered at the A.P.E. Gallery, Northampton, MA for the month of November 2012. We reconfigured some of the basic elements from the original installation: wire mesh “girders” wire balls, and clay figures, into several outdoor settings. The simple shift from a contained indoor space “framed” by walls to the relative “framelessness” of a natural environment with its diffused light, shifts the nuance of the elements. What was once, ominous and apocalyptic, now appears ethereal and other worldly.
This is What Happened…
Rebecca Muller and Harriet Diamond have known each other peripherally for over 20 years. We met through a mutual friend and both had studios for a while in the same Easthampton factory building. Over the years, we crossed paths in a friendly way and visited one another’s shows from time to time. Harriet works in mixed media, allowing the grittiness of material to shine in an equal way to the narrative/representational content of her assemblages. I had just seen her installation at the Ox Bow reflecting on the implications of our current wars and the political climate. I make constructions from mixed media and pigments, often focused around a “grid” element, and constructed primarily with found material. I like to push the edges of perception to create a visual ambiguity, that shifts depending on the viewers’ physical distance and perspective. I wanted to incorporate some of her figures into a piece, made from some distinctive material I have found, for this show. Harriet was intrigued enough to come over and look at my “assemblage” elements. Harriet confesses that she’s always thought that if she ”didn’t work figuratively with a narrative theme, she’d work like me.” I confessed the same. I like the humbleness of Harriet’s material, the raw energetic way she creates environments, and simply articulated figures that throw out a particular kind of open-ended emotion. This is what ensued….