February FFAT


Kevin Haas: Mirror of Life: An Exploration of the Built Environment (Photo: Sang-Mi Yoo)


For “Mirror of Life: An Exploration of the Built Environment”, curator Sang-Mi Yoo assembles works from Nick Conbere, John Holmgren, Amze Emmons, Kevin Haas, Jessica Meuninck-Ganger, and Nick Satinover. The work of each artist considers some aspect of humans’ interaction with human-built structure.


Jessica Meuninck-Ganger: Mirror of Life: An Exploration of the Built Environment (Photo: Sang-Mi Yoo)

Meuninck-Ganger’s sculptural works on paper depict houses from many regions of the world together, in miniature, and mounted with the wall as their foundation. Placing so many places, economic strata, and (implied) cultures so closely together makes each structure out of place, calling attention to the role of geographical context and the ease with which it can dissolve.


Amze Ammons: Mirror of Life: An Exploration of the Built Environment (Photo: Sang Mi Yoo)

Emmons’ work gets at, in a way, the opposite. Completely place-less, location-less, his graphical, somewhat two-dimensional illustrations assemble the trappings of life in an archetypal metropolis. Backed by vague skylines of buildings or possibly junk piles, he creates compositions of sparse arrangements of items at once totally public and highly personal in use—stools, an ice machine, card tables, and the like. He creates scenes that feel familiar but could be (and are) from any gigantic city in the world. All the work in the exhibition contributes in a similarly expressive way to a picture of the ways in which the things people make reflect what they would like to be, what they are notwithstanding, and how those competing directions make urbanized areas so archetypal—so universal.

Alexis McGrigg: The Blackness (Photo: Kristen Swartz)

“The Blackness” features recent works by Texas Tech MFA candidate Alexis McGrigg. She writes of her thoughts on blackness—the role it plays in defining space and describing emptiness, how it can serve as a conduit of our own mind’s outreach to what came before us and is outside us. She describes it as sound and as intangible. The works speak piecewise to each of these ideas.

Alexis McGrigg: The Blackness (Photo: Kristen Swartz)

Some are rough-edged black forms on paper, monochromes subtly interrupted by the words of McGrigg’s poetry. Some outline a human form or face in gray, vaguely standing out from the background. Others contain gold interspersed with the black ground, making a sludgy composition of very saturated pigment. For instance, two paintings in which the words of McGrigg’s poetry written in dark marks sit on dark backgrounds, beautifully and clearly evoking the way darkness/blackness can seeming channel feelings of connection with voices undefined. In these and in others, she writes of ideas and executes those ideas with clarity on their own or in groups of two or three. Each cluster of paintings seems like the beginning of a series that could powerfully expound its own ideal of blackness—each is quite strong on its own. But together they seem more like works curated around a theme than a single body of work by one artist.

Alexis McGrigg: The Blackness (Photo: Kristen Swartz)

Blackness remains an enormously durable concept in art. Like water, whiteness, or word-as-mark it can serve as a powerful medium for ideas. In this case, though, it is a medium for many ideas at once, and so each piece loses potency to its neighbors, each pushing its own meaning of Blackness.

*The author's opinions are his own.

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