Mary Laube “Songs For The Sun And Moon”

Ortega y Gasset Projects @ The Old American Can Factory

poster for Mary Laube “Songs For The Sun And Moon”
[Image: Mary Laube "The Attendant" (2019) acrylic on panel, 12 x 12 in.]

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Ortega y Gasset Projects presents SONGS FOR THE SUN AND MOON, a solo exhibition by Knoxville-based painter Mary Laube. This exhibition is curated by OyG co-director Eric Hibit.

Working in a visual language of geometry and decorative motifs, Laube examines personal and cultural history in the context of Korean aesthetic traditions. The works in this exhibition stem from Laube’s 2019 trip to Korea (her first time there since arriving in the US at age two), where she encountered museum artifacts, architecture, or objects related to historic preservation. Under the artist’s gaze, these objects are rendered as iconic, symmetrical forms that create a stabilizing visual experience. Upon closer inspection, Laube’s paintings open up surprising ambiguities. Forms move in and out of recognizability. Drop shadows (remnants of the museum lighting under which the subject was originally viewed) sometimes morph into the subject itself. Negative space recedes in one part of the composition, only to gain the positive role somewhere else. A pattern repeat is fully visible in some areas, but interrupted in others. These formal ambiguities originates in Laube’s particular way of looking, as she describes:

While inanimate objects are not deemed living, they carry a kind of autonomy created by our socialization with them. Worn objects for example have the ability to hover between the living and the non-living world, producing an uncanny presence when separated from the body. A sweater belonging to a loved one functions as a soft vessel that takes on the shape of its contents or alternatively, various shapes of vacancy. Objects from our childhood exude a presence or meaning not intrinsic to itself but developed overtime from our unique history with it. The forms in my work are repositories that contain and transport our ever-evolving experiences layered with distant memories and romanticized projections. Surfaces, patterns, and textures allude to various artifacts, with undefined contexts and functions. Through viewers’ interpretations, the work can continue to adopt a multitude of transforming meanings.

The notion of absence - and longing - is addressed in Laube’s process, which she thinks of as a “conversation” with her ancestors. Laube is interested in metaphorical possibilities of Korean shamanism: an indigenous practice with a rich history in origin mythologies. In context of her evolving understanding of shamanism, Laube views her continued painting practice as its metaphor: a bridge between her contemporary American identity and her Korean heritage. In this way, she imbues hard-edged edged painting with a fresh poetic resonance, filled with personal meanings.

Curator Sarah Fritchey is writing an essay for a catalogue for the exhibition, to be released at a closing reception.

Mary Laube (born Seoul, Korea, 1985) is Assistant Professor at University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She received her MFA (2012) from The University of Iowa, and her BFA (2009) from Illinois State University. Past exhibitions include VCU Qatar (Doha), Monaco (St Louis), Tiger Strikes Asteroid (NYC), The Spring Break Art Show (NYC), and Coop Gallery (Nashville). Artist residencies include Yaddo, Wassaic Project, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and Stiwdeo Maelor in Corris, Wales. Past publications include Art Maze Mag, Maake Magazine, and New American Paintings. In 2019, Mary received the Contemporary Visual Art Bronze Award from AHL Foundation. She is a co-founder of the Warp Whistle Project, a collaborative duo with composer Paul Schuette. Together, they make work that merges kinetic stage sets with music performance.



from September 11, 2021 to October 16, 2021


Mary Laube

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