Three artists use their foundational drawing skills to render breathtaking images in Foundation Drawing on view in the Weeks Gallery through spring break.
Minneapolis-based artist Melissa Cooke offers a trifecta of large close-up graphite drawings of her own face. At first glance, the confused viewer may think, “Why are photographs included in a show called ‘Foundation Drawing’?” But these three dramatic images aren’t photographs. They are photorealist drawings that show amazing attention to detail.
Cooke’s largest drawing, “Blocked,” has a surreal feel, with exquisite detail, amazing portrayal of light reflection across the face, and a somber expression with tears that will spark the viewer’s interest and wonder.
Hollis Hammonds, who lives in Austin, Texas, is also represented in the show. Hammonds says she focuses on the topics of “war, natural disasters, consumerism, and personal tragedy.”
The largest piece in the gallery, Hammonds’ “Mound” seems at first sight to be busy and overwhelming. It is truly a “clutter of household items” shown in an assembly of detailed, realistic, life-size individual drawings, built up into a disaster “Mound” that looks like the twister scene from the Wizard of Oz. The best part about this piece is that the artist assembles the drawings differently every time she installs it in a gallery, creating an entirely new artwork every time she shows it.
Last, but certainly not least, Buffalo-artist Joan Linder’s work is included in this show. Linder teaches at the University of Buffalo.
She focused on normal everyday scenes that you might find in your own house or apartment. When you see her “Documents,” in the display cases in the center of the gallery you may be confused. Why is there a mess of papers — bills, letters, and checks — strewn haphazardly in the three cases? If the viewer looks closely they see that all of the papers are actually hand-drawn re-creations of the real bills, letters, checks, etc., each drawn from a pile of mail that collected on Linder’s desk.
This piece is very relatable to almost any viewer, as life can sometimes become cluttered with things like bills, notices, grades, cash register receipts, computer print outs, and so on. This shows the progression of time and could represent the accumulation of all the stuff that drops into our laps as we live our busy lives.
The accumulations of many things seem important for both Hammonds and Linder. How would the meaning of their works change if only one or a few objects were rendered? If Linder’s “Documents,” presented only one bill or envelope, as compared to the entire collection as seen on display, how would the meaning of the artwork change?
Hammonds and Linder present incredible collections made up of many smaller stories. Visit the Weeks Gallery and take the time to reflect and look carefully.
The Weeks Gallery is open Monday-Friday, 11 a.m.-4 p.m., and Saturday, 11 a.m.-1 p.m. “Foundation Drawing” will be on display until March 15.