Cathryn Mallory: Levitate/Gravitate
Missoula Art Museum
February 23 – May 22, 2011
Cathryn Mallory expressed an interest in creating a body of work that would utilize the unique architectural elements of MAM’s Aresty Gallery and Travel Montana Lobby. The majority of the works in this exhibit are being created from fiber and metal to specifically address the architectural elements of the space. The atrium, different height levels in the gallery, and the opening at the top of the wall are all factors.
The overarching concept of Levitate/Gravitate deals with the emotional aspects of weight, and the artist selected the two word title for the exhibition after contemplating these central ideas. These new works are laced with Mallory’s characteristic way of working and ritualistic way of putting things together. The obsessive process and passion for materials have also been significant elements in her work. Craftsmanship and concept have always been of equal importance to Mallory. She selects materials for their aesthetic quality and communicative power, stating, “I enjoy using materials that have a familiarity, but are distanced from usual reference and association.”
This is her first solo exhibition at MAM and in choosing to address the space, she uses her strengths as an artist: her love of executing installation, her mature appreciation for complete environment, and her ability to push the limits of the architectural room. While the exhibition includes traditionally displayed art objects, much of the work for the exhibit is suspended or draped over the wall. This approach addresses the content of the exhibition by presenting the viewer with an ambiguity. By doing so, the audience is encouraged to perceive the works as ascending/descending, gathering/unraveling, and floating/falling.
Mallory is currently a Professor and Director of the Gallery of Visual Arts for the School of Art at The University of Montana. Originally from the Chicago area, she received her BFA in fiber arts from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL and an MFA in sculpture from the University of Oklahoma in Norman. This exhibition draws attention to the exciting new work and celebrates Mallory’s contributions to the larger art community.
“Structurally, the work depends on gravity for its presentation. Conceptually, I like the various notions related to gravity – seriousness, significance, and weight. References to weight abound, both physical and emotional.”