Tiffanie Morrow: Newspace, Los Angeles, California
Following suit with her last solo showing, artist Tiffanie Morrow created a room-sized installation that became the centerpiece of her recent exhibition, entitled "Points of View." She has spent the past few Augusts "in residence" during the gallery's recess, allowing the character of the main room to become an essential element in her process. In so doing, she tapped into a realm of new possibilities. Ultimately, her assured, self-contained paintings from previous years were liberated from the walls to explore the infinite space of floor, ceiling, and everything in between.
As in last year's installation, Morrow laid stripping made from built-up layers of white canvas on the dark concrete floor, mapping out areas that alluded to city planning and minimal painting or sculpture (John McLaughlin and Sol Lewitt, for example). Vertical strips presented curious offshoots to the otherwise flat construction. Acting as a billboard or drive-in movie screen, a vertical rectangle loomed at one end. A small opening in the structure pierced the boundaries of where the piece ended and the room began. Scale was also ambiguous; despite the work's size (102" x 282" x 48"), it could be perceived as a bare-bones architectural model. The patterns actually stem from personal childhood games that the artist has been querying her memory about for the past few years, but her intuitive method yielded an installation that inhabited the room with precise equanimity.
A natural step in Morrow's enterprise was a search for new locations. This led to some experimentation in the great outdoors. She began by placing works within the arid landscape of Death Valley, which evolved into a series of photographs that document her sculptures in new, albeit temporary, environments. Shown here were sets of postcard-sized photographs that appeared to be shot in bucolic, pastoral settings, but in fact were shot on roadsides and in parking lots in the immediate Los Angeles vicinity. Again Morrow toys with scale, leaving no clues as to the vastness or immediacy of a locale, which in turn leaves the viewer uncertain as to even an approximate size of the sculpture. One was inclined to reexamine the installation in the next room for some point of reference. Although this outdoor activity obviously makes reference to Smithson, DiMaria and other Earthwork artists, Morrow demonstrated that all has not been reaped from that cultivated field.
As in the room installations, there is a naturalness to the work in exterior settings. They are keenly matched to their particular landscape, and sometimes barely perceptible because they look as though they have always been there. Like unearthed archeological finds, their presence is enigmatic, but hints at some unknown yet meaningful existence. The juxtaposition of simple, hand-made refinement against unruly, rugged desert is striking, and occasionally humorous. Morrow's objects may have seemed an unlikely match for mother nature while in the confines of the gallery, but they appear to be in perfect harmony with her out in the open air.
The photographs add a compelling twist to the artist's repertoire. The "wish you were here" spirit of the "postcards" not only adds an aspect of levity, but expands the breadth of what her quirky sculptures personify, and the dialog that goes on between them. Overall this new body of work accentuates Morrow's critical sensitivity to her environment. Whether it is a large vaulted wood ceiling in the gallery, or fog that hovers over an Angel's Crest Highway parking lot, she proceeds in kind with subtle gestures that echo the site's essence. These sculptures reveal themselves gradually, and viewer contemplation affords a deeper understanding of our physical (if not metaphysical) relationship to our surroundings. Points of view indeed.
Los Angeles, California