Finding the hidden ramp…

August 18, 2011

I recently visited Lee Gainer’s studio in the Arlington Arts Center and, aside from being impressed with the progress of her work, was struck by her ability to talk about it and even her candor in assessing what she thinks is working and what isn’t. We started by looking at a series of tracing’s Lee has been working on, taking different images and, using tracing paper, outlining countours of them to create an image that is abstract and can be interpreted differently depending on the viewer. From a ballerina or an angel or Lee’s favorite “a Mad Men, 50’s era hair-doo”, these works are left to the user to imbue meaning or symbolizym, similar to a Rorschach image, as Lee pointed out. Some of my favorite’s from this series are below.




Below is taken from a series that Lee was refreshingly honest about feeling they did not achieve what she wanted them to and didn’t want to pursue them further. The images (collages that combined video screenshots and found images) were inspired by the “white flight phenomeon of the 1960’s and it made me think of Southern culture, which I grew up in, and particularly the Dukes of Hazard…and how in each episode of the show, the good guys would climb in their cars and would always find some sort of ramp and get away. I used that as a sort of metaphor for these white families who would find the ramp whereas the minority familes never did. The more I’ve thought about this series the more it has stuck with me. At the time I don’t think the idea had fully settled with me but, now that it has, I see these works as some of my favorites of what she’s working on. Lee said she’d worked on some of a larger scale but that they didn’t communicate quite as well — I would personally love to see these in a much larger size and wonder if the image of cars leaping from “found” ramps would, in fact, have more of an impact on a larger scale.









File under ‘Ideas in their embyronic form’: Lee brought out a bag of coal that she’d collected. She wasn’t sure exactly how she would use it other than that she knew she wanted to draw with it. “Coal is such an interesting material…extremely raw and unprocessed. You’d think it would crumble in your hands but it has integrity to it’s make-up…it’s solid.” I’m eager to see where she goes with this material next time I visit —