Martha Macleish and the Shadows

I took a group of my students (from the University of Missouri at Columbia) over to Kansas City to see a bit of art this past weekend. The main attraction was the Martha Macleish show at Longview Community College. One of the things I found so interesting about her work is the fact that the shadows they cast – being illuminated by the syncopated lamps of a gallery lighting system – are at least as physically striking and necessary to the experience of the art as the objects themselves are. These shadows seem to extend each work in that they transfer the structure and form of the piece into space and onto the surrounding walls and floor. While this seems obvious – it’s what all shadows do – in this case it’s much more significant. This is because the laminated, layered construction of the work is mirrored in the stratified step gradients of the multi-vectored shadows and the negotiated, sometimes grungy, sometimes glossy finish of the materials is echoed in the distended, bending atmospherics created as light falls over their spaces and shapes. The effect is mesmerizing and stimulating, leading viewers to shift their perspective again and again, bobbing and weaving around each piece to see the secrets they hold in their multi-faceted alignments and angles. The work is very much worth seeing if you get the chance. Martha granted me permission to post some images of the shadows her work created at the Longview show. Click on each to enjoy them larger.

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