MAX 2005: The Inner Voice of Art" is the fifth show in a series of biannual exhibitions launched in 1998 by the Art Museum of the University of Memphis (AMUM) and Delta Axis. The exhibition's guest curator is David Moos, curator of contemporary art at the Art Gallery of Ontario, Canada. Moos asked artists to submit works that "communicate a distinct sense of self that exists beyond the identity of the artist."
Do these works of art, from 23 local and regional artists, have enough presence and voice to stand alone? For the most part, yes. Some of the pieces evoke so many sensations they reverberate long after you exit the show.
Jean Flint's mixed-media sculpture is one such work. Twisted pieces of gray cloth are wrapped with string and hang like intestines, turds, and phalluses within the hoop-skirt body of
The Other Woman. This viscerally gripping work could be about fetishes, anger, and jealousy. But the artist takes us deep enough to suggest an additional reading. By looking underneath the stylized notions of propriety (embodied in the fraying 19th-century hoop skirt), Flint exposes the center, revealing the fragile, gut-churning knot of regret/desire everyone possesses.
With the free-for-all energy of a cartoonist and the gestural skills of an abstract expressionist, Pinkney Herbert blasts his 90-by-72-inch canvas with an Inferno of high-key color. White-hot yellows, streaks of orange-ochre, and meltdown blues read as urgent statement and emotional release. Herbert so forcibly and transparently records his gestures you can feel/see him loading on the oil paint, slashing through it, and scraping back down to the surface of his canvas.
Emily Walls' Waiting for the Place You'd One Day Call Home is full of modernity, post-modernity, and kitsch. The six-foot mixed-media sculpture is a Naugahyde coatrack. And judging by the red mittens on the ends of the rack's hooks, the work is also a figure, probably feminine, that is as lean and expressive as a Giacometti. The figure's dream home will probably be filled with doilies (like the one under her base), secondhand coatracks, red mittens, and life stories as rich as the sculpture's narrative title.
Virginia Overton's installation Hot Child fills Gallery B. As she did with the 3,600-pound tractor she hung in the main gallery last spring, Overton is once again messing with space and transforming functional objects into art. Set inside a hanging, 12-foot industrial tube, an antique record player spins the 1970s hit song "Hot Child in the City." The slightest movement, including setting the needle onto the vinyl record, slowly torques the tube. With the sway of the tube and that sassy, sexy song, Overton's work evokes a sense of space flowing though time.
To create Joyful Noise, noted Atlanta assemblage artist Radcliffe Bailey covered 60 square feet of wall with dozens of glass jugs and antique brass horns. When combined with museum lighting the work is visually stunning. Lights shine through the jugs onto the brass and create thousands of bronze-tinged aureoles within the piece and a large halo around it.
With his typical multilayered humor and panache, Greely Myatt plastered a 5'9" zipper into the back wall of gallery A and placed a fluorescent light behind it (Zip for MAX). As colloquialism, as cliché, as metaphor - a lighted zipper's possible allusions are endless.
Grier Edmundson's Thoughts on the Definition of Culture, Part II could represent the voice of the conflicted South. This black-on-black oil on canvas depicting a shadowy, almost indecipherable Nathan Bedford Forrest on horseback, may have you thinking about your own dark past and feels particularly relevant, given the current controversy over Forrest Park. n
Through September 3rd