Museum of Art & History (MOAH) Cedar, Lancaster – Monica Wyatt: Continuum

January 20-March 3, 2018


Monica Wyatt’s mesmerizing solo exhibition Continuum, takes the viewer for a ride through a theme park of the imagination. Born of a synthesis of art and science—both artistic invention and intervention—formerly quotidian objects morph into dreamlike assemblage constructions. Objects once forgotten, abandoned, discarded or overlooked are first re-envisioned, then reincarnated into prominent new roles as the components of whimsical creations held together with the glue of magic.

Zip ties, glass marbles, wire, mattress springs, dominoes, hairnets and (shades of Noah Purifoy) sardine tins; these are just a few of the items Wyatt has salvaged from a treasure trove of once-disparate things whose orbits might never have intersected in their original, strictly utilitarian roles. Re-deployed by the artist, once-incongruous objects find new meaning, fitting together like puzzle pieces into an unexpected formal harmony, such as an array of electrical capacitors that assume the guise of lichen-like plant forms. Wyatt composes these new configurations with an eloquent and seamless craft that might cajole the viewer into believing they could have evolved that way organically. 



The artist’s debut solo exhibition, her first collaboration with curator jill moniz, occupies three distinct spaces. In the entryway, a sampling of assemblage works is mounted on the walls, an overture to the larger body of work. Adjacent in the right hand gallery is an intriguing mini-survey of Wyatt’s assemblage work from 1999 to the present. Among these are a few pieces contained within rectangular framing devices such as wooden boxes. Leveraging this construct, the artist has deliberately focused her vision, confining the compositions so each element thoughtfully interacts with its counterparts as well as with the self-imposed parameters of the box or frame.

Inside the third gallery space, the notion of borders or frames is utterly abandoned. Concealed behind curtained doorways leading to the room on the left, strategically-aimed soft lighting filters down on an amorphous cloud-like constellation of cascading, enrobed, acrylic orbs suspended from the ceiling. The space, which the artist described as “womb-like,” feels like a secluded and remote enclosure far removed from the outside world. When Shadows Chase the Light, the artist’s most recent assemblage, defies the confines of a box– although in a way, the room itself could be construed as a giant box. In her appropriation of this space, Wyatt makes it thoroughly her own, inviting the viewer to enter and experience the installation almost as a participant. Floating on the perimeters of the room are complementary works including, Continuum 1, 2 and 3, richly burnished wood and rock structures that infuse the atmosphere with the essence of an enchanted forest.

The prevailing palette is quiet, reflecting colors seen in nature: gray tones, sepias, umbers, white, black and ivory, such as might be found on the landscape of a driftwood strewn beach on an overcast day. Rust—the color as well as the actual oxidized substance—appears prominently as the powdery patina acquired on old metal. Left intact, the rust seems a memento of mysterious past narratives, which the artist has made a point to respect and preserve. Its presence adds layers of nuance and meaning—a symbolic continuum of references—that deepen the resonance of Wyatt’s work.

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