Susan Collis: So it Goes

by Margaret Meehan May 19, 2011

I’m a huge fan of obsessive-compulsive art making especially when it is subtle and pulls you in for a rewarding surprise of a gem. Such work gives a personal thank you for paying attention. This is, gems included, the case in the exhibition Susan Collis: So it Goes at Lora Reynolds Gallery.

A self described maker of “memorials to disappointment and frustration”, Collis’s work verges on the edge of precious and decorative at times but pushes past these moments with her attention to detail and care.

After a Fashion, 2011 Mahogany, turquoise, opal, seed pearls, mother of pearl, silver (hallmarked) 2 x 27-7/8 x 2 inches

Drips, smears, ripped edges and mistakes are her focus.  The strongest work lies in her romance with and literal elevation of those usually disregarded, agonized or forgotten moments. “Happy accidents” as they are known that are heightened by Collis through her labor, time or literal application of precious gems and metals.

After a Fashion is one such work that in another context could be easily missed or tripped over with out further investigation. But if you bend down you’ll discover a mahogany board decked out in turquoise, opal, seed pearls, mother of pearl, and silver as if it were going to tea with your Nana. This sculpture began with a random piece of wood pulled from a dumpster that later became a starting point for this made from scratch homage.

Dark Grows the Day Dearie, 2010 Graphite on paper

Dark Grows the Day Dearie (detail), 2010 Graphite on paper

Dark Grows the Day Dearie is from a series of duration drawings made roughly in the span of one year. Hard or soft gradation on the page is determined by the artist’s mood that day and the pencil pressure she applies. The marks and movement shifting until the paper is covered and the drawing is complete. The result is a framed cloud shape or abstracted fog that breaks the wooden frame as if it were trying to bleed out or slip away.  The actual piece of paper is much larger than the drawing (27 x 36-5/8 inches, framed drawing, 91 x 59-1/2 inches, paper installation) and hangs down making a sizable work that straddles two and three dimensions in the same way the paper straddles the wall and floor.

Anything Really, 2011 0.9 mm pencil leads, framed 10-3/4 x 8-1/2 inches

On the same wall hangs Anything Really. The scale shift from Dark Grows the Day Dearie and the supposed increased overall density of mark on this smaller composition pull you closer to the work for a reveal. A delicate three dimensional graphite drawing created by layering thousands of 0.9 mm pencil leads across paper and then encased under glass. While most of Collis’s work references the act of mark making it is interesting to note the emphasis of dimension and tactility whether literal or implied in her drawings and sculptures.

Susan Collis: So it Goes is at Lora Reynolds Gallery through July 16th, 2011.

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