Embracing the Inundating Wash of Excess: Amy Boone-McCreesh’s “I Come in Peace” at NAPOLEON: An Essay by Evan Laudenslager
Embracing the Inundating Wash of Excess: Amy Boone-McCreesh’s “I Come in Peace” at NAPOLEON
An Essay by Evan Laudenslager
Imagery, like memories at their most crisp, is familiar to us and yet still always divergent from its potent inspirators. Slowly slipping into the abyss of time, through reproduction and retelling, the imagery that we create is constantly appropriated and repurposed, retaining only traces of what bore it into the world. Often, in the commercial and visual sense, reproductions are deemed to be of lesser value–but the generative potential of the repurposed is too often untapped. Amy Boone-McCreesh recognizes this void and the powerful and playful potential that her own self-referential practice of visual recycling holds.
The act of repetition itself does far more than create uniformity–in fact, the most rewarding facet of Amy Boone-McCreesh’s use of repetition is not overwhelming similarity but the wild variations that occur when works, or pieces of works, are copied or dissected and aligned with others. A painting or collage whose original contains countless minute textural landscapes becomes flattened, hues butting into one another in an inescapably colorful tug-of-war. It is discernible as the same work, yet operates in the physical realm in a vastly different capacity. At the same time, a two dimensional papercut leaps into life when curved and woven through the surface of another. When intertwined, the digital and the handmade begin an unnatural and surprising dialogue. At a certain point it becomes unclear which is the copy and which the copied–like walking into the middle of visual whisper-down-the-alley.
To place these two in context with one another questions both the inhumanity of mass production the “authenticity” of the handmade. Are we to place more value on a hand-generated work on paper or a digitally produced print of a previously made painting? And how do we tackle a work that seamlessly combines the two? Perhaps the attribution of value in any respect detracts from the inherent faculty of either artwork–the arbitrary act of appraisal itself an exercise in absurdity.
The works address these questions without the aid of discernibly representational imagery of any kind, relying on the formal elements of color, shape, and texture to encourage tangential association rather than naturalistic affiliation. Patterned wall vinyl references shapes in the works on paper, taking new life as related but autonomous offspring, breaking from their formal frames and snaking, engorged, onto the surrounding walls of the gallery. This dynamism activates the entire gallery space, and the decorated itself becomes decoration.
Although adornment can be superficial and decoration skin-deep, the works are elevated to a point where their superfluousness is so arable that we reap an entirely new visual language with which to address the power dynamics of original vs. copy. This new alphabet is one borne from freedom and disruption rather than order and value. When unhinged from the preciousness of originality, artworks are no longer tied to conceptual or monetary value and thus are free to exist as vehicles for nurturing free thought. The gallery can prevail as an incubator of autonomous ideas, the artworks neural axons of arrival and departure for the itinerant viewer.
Her work drives us to discover a deeper relationship with human aesthetics, to resist the urge to judge the visual at first glance. We are encouraged to strip away the initial repulsion of excess and visual noise and revel in its inundating wash, allowing her almost manic landscapes of color and texture to surround us with its lush embrace. In a visceral moment of cathartic acceptance, overwhelming information reigns as the supreme bringer of pleasure: why have a moment of silence when you can have a moment of noise?
Just as every color converges to form thick, opaque black, Amy Boone-McCreesh’s dexterous maximalism eventually grows into a meditative silence, allowing a breaking down of the ingrained parameters of aesthetic appreciation. In an ocean of noise, her announcement cuts through to remind us to stop skirting the enigma of mass production and look it squarely in the eye: “I come in peace.”
About the Author:
Evan Laudenslager is a writer, artist, musician, and evening gardener based in Philadelphia. He is a graduate of the Visual Studies program at Tyler School of Art, Temple University.
To read a PDF version of this essay, click Laudenslager_Boone-McCreesh_July_2016