Arts & Culture, Went There

WENT THERE: “Text Messages” at the Lanoue Gallery

Language as a visual art


Words. Words. Words. They are the building blocks of communication and this fall at the Lanoue Gallery, they are the ingredients for stunning visual pieces. The exhibition, Text Messages, features seven talented artists (Kristin Bauer, Peter Combe, Robert Mars, Irene Mamiye, Jane Maxwell, David McCauley, Thomas Stephenson) and their nuanced knitting of text into an art sweater. In addition to connotation, their pieces consider the visual aspects of text- such as font, color, repetition, and placement- in order to broaden the way words can carry meanings. As a result, the works become dynamic and tense- an environment in which inquisition and discovery can truly take place.

Peter Combe | Power (Tyrone Power)| Mixed media with hand-punched paint swatches

Text Messages is visually breathtaking and brings each artists’ play on words into a unique setting. Peter Combe uses individually hand-punched paint swatches to form his vibrant visuals and words. David McCauley merges the dictionary and colloquialism through light. Illusions and angles are Irene Mamiye’s superpower as she dissects the relationship between America and love. Thomas Stephenson takes a dive into the idea of beliefs in his bold wooden pieces. Kristin Bauer’s glass words show the fragility of truth and the boxes that definitions create.

Robert Mars | Mesmerized (Chanel) | Collage on panel with resin

Robert Mars plays with the connection between the iconic Chanel No.5 bottle and Hollywood’s most well-known sex symbol, Marilyn Monroe in his piece Mesmerized (Chanel). The two have been welded together by our culture after Marilyn said she wore only the perfume to bed, but Mars takes a different route. In the text, he incorporates, “Some say her name is Norma Jean Baker… Others claim its Norma Jeane Mortenson”, along with Marilyn’s body measurements and her status as a “love goddess”. The bottle seems to encapsulate the enigma of Norma Jeane trapped inside the glamour of Marilyn Monroe. In this case, Mars’ incorporation of text, while contributing to the aesthetic, is also shifting attention from a Hollywood actress to a more complex human being. 

Jane Maxwell | Do You See the Real Me | Collage and mixed media

Looking inwards, Jane Maxwell carves out the silhouette of a woman with words. Her piece Do You See the Real Me suggests that human beings are stuck in the world of definitions- and even more, the clash between inner and outer definitions. On the outer layers, the woman is a wall of measurements. She is impersonal and stuck within the definitive numbers trapping her. As the patterns and text inch closer to her core, they become softer. A bold sans serif font transforms into sweet and curly cursive lettering, rendering the woman exposed and vulnerable to everyone. (I implore you to click on the image and zoom into each carefully crafted layer!)

David McCauley | Hustler | Mixed media with dynamic LED lights

The text is in the epicenter of the entire exhibition. The colors are striking and the mediums are innovative,  “… yet, no matter the materials employed, each work’s meaning is either subtly or radically transformed through the addition of language.” It is perfectly mundane to see text within a work of art, yet this exhibition treats text as the artwork- it is treated as an aesthetically valuable tool to send a message. 

Text Messages will be held at the Lanoue Gallery until October 14th.

Lanoue Gallery


View even more pieces by these wonderful artists at their websites:

Kristin Bauer

Peter Combe

Robert Mars

Irene Mamiye

Jane Maxwell

David McCauley  

Thomas Stephenson   

Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License(unless otherwise indicated) © 2019