Grizzly Grizzly trio grapple with a time-tested, give-and-take process

Arts / Article

As a bastion of repurposing and decontextualizing, collage has been the medium of choice for those artists interested in the meaning of symbols and signs from the world around them, and how they can be shaped into unique compositions that are greater than the sum of their parts. From pre-Surrealist experiments through the postmodern grind, collage has waxed and waned, but Grizzly Grizzly’s “Cut & Paste” presents three contemporary artists that prove the process is far from exhausted.

Tyler Starr, “Hell and High Water: Devil’s Den, Gettysburg.”

Tyler Starr concocts scenes that are historically charged with the specters of the locations he chooses to recreate. All three locations have foreboding names, which were either caused by or rose from urban legends surrounding them. Of the three, only one is probably the real deal. Devil’s Den is located where the Battle of Gettysburg occurred and served as a strategical high ground for sharpshooters. Otherwise Lover’s Leap, Missouri and Satan’s Kingdom, Connecticut are inundated with tales of jumping couples and shunned outcasts respectively, although the accuracy of these stories leaves much to be desired.

By harnessing these oral histories, Starr’s vaguely photographic depictions are macabre… and exaggeratedly so. Although these areas are, for the most part, simply benign landmarks and tourist destinations, like the storytellers that keep these tales running, Starr imbues them with a dark hyperbole but instead of words he utilizes ink, graphite, and Japanese paper. Like some type of map marker or color balance tool, the artist inexplicably includes brightly colored geometric bursts in a couple of his images. These sections lessen the blow of the otherwise dreary content but certainly attract attention in their own right, not unlike those among us who seek to capitalize on tragedy – genuine or not.

Selena Kimball, "Untitled (late October)."

Selena Kimball, “Untitled (late October).”

While reading a newspaper, like most of us, Selena Kimball can’t seem to finish. Indicative of the flagrant sensationalism and eye-catching headlines that grapple with one another for attention, Kimball slices up newspapers partway through reading them instead of discarding them outright. She spews out avalanches of imagery that parallel, and indeed stem from the content she sees around her without making any sort of direct statement. Any one person can only take so much punishment from the media, and occasional heartwarming animal stories are scarcely enough. Kimball’s response is to remix the print materials at her disposal (in this case, the New York Times) into glitching masses of current events without the baggage of politicking or preaching. The result is a refreshingly distanced but incredibly accurate portrayal of the information we consume.

Jenny McGee Dougherty, "Notebook Weave."

Jenny McGee Dougherty, “Notebook Weave.”

Jenny McGee Dougherty offers compositions that are seemingly the least involved with the messy world at large, and more focused on personal experience with the materials she encounters. In “Notebook Weave,” we find the recognizable cover and ruled interior of a marbled composition book, twisted and reassembled by the artist’s hand into a polygonal wall hanging. Each of the segments that shape it is nearly rectangular, but appears to be cut by hand, warping the otherwise perfect product ever so slightly. Each side along the central zigzag is a woven congruency of the other, twisting inside and outside into a neat package of unity of form.

Reworking the world from news and legend down to the personal books and bits that accumulate in boxes and junk drawers worldwide, these artists provide works that are visually engaging in their own right, but also products of the content that they arise from. Either taken at face value or with some scrutiny, these artworks act in a give and take with their environments and creators.

Grizzly Grizzly is located at 319 North 11th St., on the second floor, Philadelphia; [email protected]