Not much new art to see last night, and the few openings ranged from mediocre to slightly embarrassing. (What’s with the velvet-painting-like flower photographs and vaguely potato-shaped ceramics at Catherine Person?)
There was one exception: Satomi Jin’s drawings at SOIL. SOIL is always feels cramped, and I leave wondering whether I’ve seen all the art, but I believe Jin has two large pieces up: “Millions” and “Blue Drawing.” “Millions” is a 12-foot-long and 4-foot-tall work on paper consisting of thousands of tiny, obsessive circular marks made in pen that cohere as if by magnetic force into large, floating orbs. The result is gorgeous and impressive, if not terribly original.
More complicated is “Blue Drawing,” a 5-foot square of plywood painted a smoky blue with an almost invisible, intricate floral pattern rising up from its surface in looping stitches of thin wire painted the same color blue. From the side, all that wire looks like a mound of blue pubic hair. In one sense, the wire seems to grow out of the plywood, but the surface’s decorative pattern and Jin’s overall monochromatic restraint draw from entirely different sources. Like “Millions,” it’s a painstaking drawing with austerely formal results, but it’s also a painting, a sculpture and a bit of sewing.
This is Satomi Jin’s web site.
One addendum, because even though I’m not usually crazy about art-by-children shows, I feel I’d be a terrible human being if I didn’t at least mention this show of drawings by Sudanese kids at UW’s Odegaard Library through Feb. 22. This, from the press release:
The exhibition features 27 drawings by children from Darfur, who escaped the massive ethnic cleansing in Sudan. In 2005, Human Rights Watch investigators working on the Darfur crisis gave children notebooks and crayons to keep them occupied while they gathered testimony from the children’s parents. Without any instructions, the children drew harrowing and heartbreaking accounts of what they witnessed in Darfur: the brutal attacks by government sponsored militias known as the Janjaweed, the indiscriminate bombings by Sudanese government forces, the shootings, the burning of entire villages, and the flight to Chad. Schoolchildren from seven refugee camps offered Human Rights Watch researchers their drawings as living testimony of life in Darfur. These drawings with their unique visual vocabulary of war have given a forceful voice to the youngest victims of the crisis, which has taken the lives of an estimated 200,000 and displaced over 2 million.
If you want to know more about the background of the current Sudanese slaughter, I’d recommend “Emma’s War” (2002) by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reporter Deborah Scroggins. (Unfortunately, it’s so readable that it’s being made into a film starring Nicole Kidman.)