Upon visiting the two current exhibits at Kingston Gallery, Sharon Pierce: Clearly… and Jeanne Griffin: Impressions, discovering the vernacular of each.

In Sharon Pierce’s work there are hundreds of tiny, tiny figures and objects suspended in acrylic gel and held in suspense forever.  I am reminded in a strange way of the ruins of Pompeii; this is a miniaturized and plasticized version of a culture arrested in motion. The work is funny, alluding to our obsession with consuming products, many of which are packaged in the very same things we see here in a gallery context.  This work mimics us and mocks us. It also reminds me of the work of artist Charles LeDray, but the inverse.  He actually fabricates the small world he invents and everything in it.  Pierce fabricates nothing – which is part of the point of the work.

We see into and through these objects – molds, cones, salt and pepper shakers, hanging drops, bags and test tubes. Here’s what we see inside – a world populated with men and women on cell phones, tiny and larger babies, animals, fish, divers, swimmers, boats, men working, various kinds of food like cupcakes, and the Pope. They are all isolated, mute, inhabitants of a terrible dystopian world.  Yet from a distance you cannot see any of this – the objects are shiny and reflective, casting shadows on the wall, lovely abstractions.

Jeanne Griffin’s small paintings also evoke another world, their colors from an exotic landscape. She is inspired by her travels to Nepal and Bhutan, and uses Indonesian tjaps in making her work. Griffin uses this tool, which is typically used in batik fabric printing, to burn patterns into her encaustic paintings.  Additional techniques involve inscribing into or painting over parts of the original image. The paintings are an equivalence of landscape, pattern, and cloth.  One imagines seeing the landscape from above, a hyper-saturated palette not of this locale, each one an isolated moment and memory.  The artist exists outside the cultures she is attracted to,creating her own language of form and content, to visualize and make manifest for the viewer what she remembers.

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