This past Tuesday, during the first Public Relations Hours of the month (the next one will be July 23 from 2-4 pm), I had the opportunity to see the current exhibit, Linda Leslie Brown’s solo exhibit Chimeric, up through July 28 at the Kingston Gallery.

Brown is interested in the intersection of humans with nature, and the work literally embodies that intersection. Chimeric alerts us to our own relationship with nature. The installation of towering assemblages becomes a habitat for plants and crystals, the fusing of animal, vegetable and mineral. The man-made objects both reveal themselves – one is looking at a spatula, a masher, a spoon – and at the same time combine to create something unexpected. They bear the residue of human use. The viewer seeks to connect all the individual parts of the work while the work seeks to transcend all its parts, alerting us to the inherent relationship between culture and nature. The over-wrought forms suggest plant forms gone berserk, yearning to overwhelm and fill the whole space of the gallery.  I was reminded of Judy Pfaff’s work, which also mines this territory of our relationship to nature, often literally bringing it inside.

What also came to mind while experiencing the exhibit is the notion of the artist as a gardener, caretaking and cultivating ideas that become manifest.  In Linda’s case, the metaphor is more than apt, as the inclusion of plants as an element is very important. A garden is the demonstration of the relationship between culture and nature, which has existed for thousands of years. The artist, as she continues exploring this symbiosis, longs for this understanding and unity.  To quote Brown, “For me, these works are not simply visual analogues. A residue of homely utility is embedded in their adapted object parts. This carried life force resonates with my ongoing care for the growing plants and the energy fields created by the clusters of quartz crystals, in a way that gives the work a sort of consciousness and an experience in time.”

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