An array of painted lumber – uneven, lengthy, and painted in cool colors aside from the occasional burst of red or orange – greets the art enthusiast upon stepping into the Rice Gallery. This creation is one of three of the Strata Series pieces, which are a focal point of artist Mary Walker’s exhibit The View From Here: A New Landscape.
The Strata Series, as well as the majority of Walker’s other pieces on display, fuses objects that range from tree branches to metal coils with a variety of subtly, but precisely, painted lumber: cut lumber, plywood, and perhaps most interestingly, spare wood from a tree farm. One piece, Archipelago, features a neon green protractor attached to a chunk of paint-smeared wood.
These pairings follow Walker’s theme of contrast: the natural versus the manmade. The natural landscape in which we live is embodied by the pieces’ asymmetrically placed and softly colored wood – in Contrasted Landscape #1, splashes of green and brown on an otherwise tan background remind an observer of grass and earth.
Miscellaneous items, mostly various hardware gizmos, dot the skewed lumber. These are the manmade elements of Walker’s art. Walker’s aim was to showcase the beauty of these industrial-looking, unnatural objects. Items such as metal plates, reflectors, and hinges are indeed cast into a new light where their craftsmanship is not only noticed, but appreciated.
The pieces from A View From Here: A New Landscape, born from Walker’s desire to bring sculpting and painting together, convey the unmistakable difference between the natural and the manmade. This original, unique project lets us see the fine details of everyday objects contrasted against the broad, unpredictable scenes of nature – but also keys us in on how both elements can work together beautifully.