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Specter of Nature: Spacetaker’s ARC Gallery

Submitted by Commandrea on January 23, 2011 – 11:33 amNo Comment

Stephanie Anne Clark, “The Specter of Nature”

by  Michael Pennywark

A couple of weekends ago, I had the fortune to attend the opening of Stephanie Anne Clark’s exhibition “The Specter of Nature” at Spacetaker’s Artist Resource Center. Lured by the promise of free booze, I grabbed my coat and headed out to find the Winter Street Studios. As I waited patiently for the map to load on my aging iPhone, I wondered why I had never visited this gallery before. After a few moments of soul searching it occurred to me that outside of exhibitions at the Menil and the MFAH, the only time I’d visited a gallery in the last year was to shoot a short (but spectacular) film that about five people in the world have seen so far – four if you don’t count my cat. With the map now loaded, I noticed several other little red dots with names of more galleries I had never visited. I made a mental note to find out more about them all, and vowed that I would add “see more art” to my New Year’s resolution list…if I ever get around to making one.

Before I knew it, the little blue dot had traversed its path on my phone and, looking up, I found myself parked outside the Winter Street Studios. For those of you who have been living under a rock the last six years, as I apparently have, the Winter Street Studios (at 2101 Winter Street) is home to some 75 art studios for over 87 artists. Converted from a condemned former furniture factory in 2005, the studios have become a hub for the local art community. Spotting Spacetaker’s ARC gallery (the crowd of people was a dead give away), I headed in. Perhaps I should admit, that while having an interest in new and innovative art, I am perhaps more qualified to review the wine at an opening than the art. Certainly there have been some openings where I could tell you more about what I drank than what I saw, but this was not one of them.

The first thing that struck me about the art was the combination of materials and photographic techniques that produced unique, colorful, and intricate images. Layers of materials, photographs and shadows create a depth to the images that bring the subject to life. Drawn by the fantastical nature of some of the images, I resisted the urge to impose my own narrative on Clark’s work, and instead talked to her afterwards about the exhibition.

She explained that she used “decorative materials and digital media to create hybrid imagery that moves beyond the photograph”; that the staging of the photographs in effect produces a “theatricality of place, even an absence of real place” in the final image. Clark added that “using light and shadow as symbols of hope and potential, I create spaces where figures and forms merge and emerge; much like the human experience where the known and the unknown, the real and the unreal, are investigated within the murky depths of the subconscious.”

Still fascinated by some of the shadowy figures lurking amongst a forest of material, I asked if there was an underlying narrative. Stephanie remarked that she “wouldn’t say there is a specific narrative within any one piece. However, as a whole, the imagery and the materials do explore an interesting take on ‘Nature’ as a transformative idea that even today is transcribed on materials produced within our culture.”

After drinking in the color and playfulness of Stephanie’s art, I felt like I had made some progress on my resolution and headed home, determined to find out more about Spacetaker. I was later to learn from KC Scharnberg (Spacetaker’s Program and Marketing Director), that while Spacetaker has been operating out of this studio since 2008, the Artist Resource Center has only been used as an official gallery space since May of 2010, making me feel slightly vindicated in my ignorance.

As for the wine, it was Spanish, I think.

“The Specter of Nature” is now showing at Spacetaker’s ARC gallery at the Winter Street Studios (2101 Winter Street) until the 29th of January

‘The Specter of Nature’ has been shown at RIT’s SPAS Gallery, in Rochester, NY and will travel to the Fort Worth Community Arts Center in late 2011.

Stephanie currently teaches Digital Design Foundations at The University of Texas at Arlington.

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