Exhibition Dates: July 25 – August 30
Reception: Thursday, August 13 • 6 – 8 pm • Gallery Talk with Leigh Merrill at 7pm
Texas-based artist Leigh Merrill shows photography and video in her solo exhibition Cloud Seeding. Merrill’s work examines the construction of desire, fiction and beauty in urban landscapes by digitally compositing thousands of images and videos into imaginary spaces. She was selected as the winner of our annual Open Exhibition competition by jurors John James Anderson and Amy Boone-McCreesh. A catalog will accompany the exhibition.
Artist Statement by Leigh Merrill
My work examines the construction of desire, fiction and beauty in our urban landscapes. My process begins by making thousands of individual photographs, videos, and audio recordings while exploring a city or neighborhood. In the studio, I then digitally assemble these sources to create photographs and videos of imaginary spaces. These composite images and videos function as a metaphor for the ways in which desire is physically constructed in the landscape.
The scenes in both the photographs and the videos are spaces that feel familiar but not placeable. They tap into some of the conscious and subconscious visual cues, barriers, and borders we create—a language that is shared by urban, suburban, and rural spaces. The movements in my videos are the ambient changes in an environment: leaves fluttering in the wind, the movement of clouds, light and shadows shifting on the street. The subtly of the movement in these videos share as much with photographs as moving images: the vantage point is fixed and the stillness of the scene is amplified by the faint changes in each environment.
The imagery in both the videos and photographs play off one another creating a sense of pleasure and curiosity in seeing the familiar become unfamiliar.
About the Artist
Leigh Merrill received her bachelor’s of fine arts from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and her master’s of fine arts Mills College in Oakland, California.
Her work has been a part of exhibitions throughout the United States in venues such as the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona, the diRosa Art Preserve in California, The Lawndale Art Center in Texas, the Tremaine Gallery in Connecticut, and the Museum of Texas Tech University. She was also part of the 2011 Fotographia Festival Internazionale di Roma at the Galleria Gallerati in Rome.
Merrill’s work has been included in online and print publications such as the Design Observer/Places Journal, Dwell.com, BLDGBLOG blog, PaperCity Magazine, and the Houston Chronicle.
Her work is part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Texas Tech University, the City of Phoenix, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and various private collections. Merrill currently lives and works in Dallas, where she is an assistant professor of art at A&M University-Commerce.
Juror Statement by Amy Boone-McCreesh
Leigh Merrill’s work is touching on a human level in both a humorous and strikingly lonely way. Stark landscapes hold evidence of human existence while combining subtle elements that defy typical perception of time and space. The work boasts an understanding of digital technologies without feeling overly produced. Formal arrangements include geometric elements of landscapes and dots of colorful man made objects. These formal decisions made within the visuals of the work feed back into the content. The sound contained in the videos provides a perfect addition to the eerily post-human world Merrill has created. The painfully beautiful color palettes are paired with recognizable imagery, leading the viewer to feel familiar with the spaces and yet still experience an emotional detachment. Merrill also champions the depiction of flat and real space in a way that is often only considered in painting, creating a strange compressed world that is unnervingly realistic and funny.
The video and photographic works of Leigh Merrill are an appropriate depiction of the state of the Western existence, partially experiencing reality while consistently committed to a digital reality. The confusion between reality, depicted reality, and deceptive reality are all represented in this body of work, a timely and timeless concept.
Amy Boone-Mcreesh is a Baltimore-based visual artist. She earned her bachelor’s of fine arts from the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design in 2007 and her master’s of fine arts in studio art from Towson University in 2010. Her work has been exhibited in galleries throughout the United States and she has been awarded grants and fellowships such as the Hamiltonian Fellowship at Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington, DC. Boone-McCreesh currently teaches as an adjunct professor at both the Maryland Institute College of Art and Howard Community College.
Juror Statement by John James Anderson
The challenge of Leigh Merrill’s work is identifying the unique qualities of the seemingly banal. If there is one thing that unifies the American experience from the Atlantic to the Pacific, it is the reinterpretation of modern architecture by the construction engineers who hurriedly erect commercial spaces, big and small, for strip mall and discount retail. If there is anything worse than the front door experience of those spaces, it is the back of the store.
While the experience of the sprawl and off-ramps of America can be summarized as cookie-cutter, there are visible differences that become evident when those spaces are slammed together in a composite: the materials of the façade, the weathering of materials in different climates, and the differences in flora are clear examples. How people maintain or add to the spaces are other examples. Within these composite images of Leigh Merrill’s, the familiar becomes askew: out of place. Just as our dreams take reality and reimagine them, the imaginary spaces of Leigh Merrill’s have the same quality. They are slightly disjointed and out of touch from reality, but they look like spaces we carelessly pass by and ignore.
John James Anderson is an interdisciplinary artist who works with vector and raster software, video, painting, and less conventional tools and media. His work has exhibited throughout the United States, and has been awarded several grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Anderson began to teach art in the greater Washington, DC, area after receiving his master’s of fine arts in painting from American University in 2005. He’s taught at American University, George Washington University, George Mason University, and The Corcoran College of Art and Design. He is currently an associate professor of art at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, MD.
Target Gallery is the contemporary national and international exhibition space for the Torpedo Factory Art Center. The gallery hosts nine exhibitions annually–some juried, some curated–featuring a variety of themes, artists and media.