Soft. Ethereal. Subtly captivating.
Each of these words could be used to describe last week’s exhibition at SPAC Gallery in Seattle, WA. Through the use of decidedly delicate and subtly abstract biomorphic forms, artists Melissa Ergo and Moriah Westrick create a world of interpretive intrigue – Westrick through the use of black, white, and yellow resin pieces and layered drawings, and Ergo through photographs and drawings (executed both on paper as well as directly on the wall) of sensuously twisted rope.
There is a definite sense of harmony between Ergo and Westrick’s respective works, but of the two artists, it’s Ergo’s work that really shines in the exhibition. While Westrick’s work weaves a linear story with a definitive starting and ending point, Ergo’s pieces throw the viewer into a realm of deep confusion and leave the viewer struggling to find meaning behind a twisted and manipulated rope. We see it in various forms – in large drawings, photographs on silk fabric, wall drawings, and photo proofs – yet the purpose remains elusive. There are myriad interpretations to be sure, and Ergo doesn’t hint at what her particular interpretation might be, but instead lets her audience draw from them whatever they will. There is beauty and appeal in the unknown, and through her photographs and drawings, Ergo creates an atmosphere of aesthetically pleasing obscurity.
The real beauty of Westrick’s work lies in a world of shadows. While the resin pieces themselves are beautifully executed and praiseworthy in their own right, the projections beyond the works are where the true beauty of Westrick’s art lies. The concept behind Westrick’s work is inspired by a form of bacteria that leads to the contamination of drinking water in third world countries. While this subject matter is evident in the pieces themselves, the message is driven home through the shadows. We are reminded that this is an ongoing problem – that this bacteria grows at a rate that is difficult to control. And through the anterior projections of the resin, we are drawn into a cyclical and ongoing (albeit beautiful) crisis. The only disappointment to be found in Westrick’s work is in her drawings. While they are interesting subjects in their own right, the forced, literal interpretation of strains of bacteria falls flat against the more organic world of resin and shadows.
All in all, Ergo’s and Westrick’s pieces are pleasing to the eye and help to change the sense of awareness of the viewer – two qualities essential to successful art. The only downfall of the show could be the lack of variety. Both Ergo and Westrick show that they are very good at representing their chosen subject matters, but the lack of variation is slightly (and only slightly) disappointing. While each of their pieces are certainly cohesive, the variations between each work is almost too subtle. It leaves the viewer wanting more.
Give us more.