Zach Morriss: Interiorscapes
It is easy to be seduced by certain work. One such exhibition is Interiorscapes, Zach Morris’ MFA thesis for Texas Tech University at 5&J gallery at CASP. A gritty perfectionist, his installations and paintings get at the coquettish appeal of velvety pink, gold, striping, and damask familiar in the work of Sophia Coppola, Wes Anderson, and Victoria’s Secret stores. It’s nice to be drawn in to a work’s tactile visual appeal before you get knocked upside the head with conceptual weight—the trapdoor of Morriss’ work lying in exposed computer grids, masses of wires, and outdated monitors.
The pairing of heavily physical 3D work and traditional painting is a task—here, the paintings hold their own through their heavy materiality (American Spirit cartons are pasted in and overlap caulk-like arabesque patterning). The flatness of green housing development grids made of Frog Tape in “Interiorscape V” reinforce the naked computer chip grids in “Pattern/System” and each work seems stronger in their mutual comparison.
Flatness and pictorial depth are such basic principles in design, but coupled with the interior/exterior play in Morriss’ work, it serves cognizant of developed human architecture over the earth, a bacterial colony visible by it’s surface treatment of concrete cities and cookie-cutter housing developments. Morriss seems to be taking a long arc of spatial presentation from arabesque motifs and depictions of rooms and corridors to claustrophobic assemblages and clusters of wires.
Often, he plays with the idea of flatness and depth in the inverse, using flat pink insulation foam to create immaculate sculptures of rococo-inspired chairs. Even with a sort of macro-view of architectural adornment, there is something specifically Texan and American in his work. In “Coyote”, there is a pelt hanging on a fence strung up with a personal computer and wires. In “Gun Rack,” Morriss crafts immaculate wooden and casted objects: a lighter, a life-size rifle, tassels, and a tiny Buddha. No one does sprawl AND wide open spaces like we do.
By heavily exploring surfaces, Morriss plays at the plasticity of our lives. Plastic in both the fake, shiny sense of the word and the pliability of multiple functions- domestic furnishings and fireplaces serve a function, but are also part of the social media peacocking that eats away at the boundary of private and public life. The digital era is on all our minds- even taking a friggin’ walk can be called “unplugging.”
There is a mythology to the work- a sweet sickly smell of the American Dream. The little-boxes-style-housing, the “frontier”, the sultry décor, and Astroturf break against the weight of the technological components in the work. This may be hyperbolic, but money isn’t real, it’s just numbers on a screen. The world is chock-full of 500-dollar-a-month millionaires thanks to fast fashion and the like. The humdrum and filigree of Morriss’ chairs, tassels, and interiors mask a quiet death, a buy-in to “the man,” the system, the suit. In this way Interiorscapes is a really gorgeous, terrifying cabinet of curiosities. Throw pillows, well-curated Instagram accounts, and keeping up with Joneses may not be the soma that Aldous Huxley predicted, but they are a hell of an anesthetic.
*Interiorscapes”is on view (by appointment) at 5&J Gallery at CASP until Thursday, April 26th.