Accumulation is at the heart of two exhibitions at the Rowe Galleries on the main campus of UNC Charlotte. In Jennifer Meanleys If By Land And Sea, memories accrue; in Rian Kerranes Opposition Papers, it is objects.
Jennifer Meanleys works on paper teem with botanical imagery, moody figures, and disorienting combinations of deep and shallow space.
For Meanley, these works are about memory but instead of depicting specific past events, they are about how memories build and shift over time. Meanley imagines memory as a space of dense growth. This inspires her to make densely layered works that, in part, express her yearning to bridge distances created by the passage of time.
Meanley works extensively with monotypes. Unlike other prints, which are created in multiples, a monotype is a unique, individual work. Meanleys monotypes, which she makes with oils, are alive with sticky, luminous paint.
Many of the pieces in this exhibition are collages created from a combination of monotypes and paintings on paper. Rather than reuse existing works, Meanley creates pieces that are intended to be cut and torn. Some of the final works are massive, for example, Discernment for Three, which is an impressive 7 feet by 12.5 feet. The collaged elements often protrude from the surface or poke out along the edges, giving these works on paper an almost sculptural feel.
Rian Kerrane, a self-appointed archeologist, examines how we use stuff to define ourselves, wherever we find ourselves.
In her four Tow Rope wall pieces, the central element is a print depicting a rope much like the one Kerranes family used for tug-of-war games back in Ireland. It represents the tug she feels between her yearning for home and her experience as an immigrant. Surrounding the prints are various objects toy boats, scissors, small plastic trees, garden implements that symbolize either home or wandering.
Periodic Table of Elements/One Hundred and Three Intimacies is a vibrant grid of 9-inch-by-9-inch panels with various objects affixed to them; the title and the arrangement of the panels imply that these things are the building blocks of existence. Precisely arranged buttons, pennies, hair rollers, sewing notions, and other modest items attest to our drive to gather and contain.
Art about our need for things can sometimes be cynical. But Kerranes approach is one of respect both for the manufacturing process and for our primordial need to collect, as we take our hunter-gatherer instincts and move them from forest to flea market.