PROVIDENCE, RI – Yellow Peril Gallery is pleased to announce Paper House by Joan Backes, featuring a luminous mixed media house installation covered in recycled, shredded paper that incorporates natural specimens with industrial elements and LED lights, in addition to recycled wood paintings from her Art Source Artist Residency in Australia and related works poised in a space between nature and the built environment; between the allure of surface and revelatory layers of meaning; between the contemporary present and deep-seated connections to her past.
Backes is an internationally renowned artist, and has shown in Germany, Scotland, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Thailand, Canada, Argentina, and Chile, along with numerous places in the United States. Her work carefully examines the tree as a material and a concept. She dissects the tree almost obsessively, and looks at every physical and conceptual aspect, creating carpets of laminated leaves, painting detailed and accurate images of bark, taking crayon and graphite bark rubbings, and building installations and sculptures out of limbs and branches. Because of the universality of the tree as a symbol across cultures and generations, the resulting work touches a primal part of human imagination, and recalls a broad spectrum of literature, folklore, and art.
Paper House (2007-2016) welcomes visitors into Backes' artistic heart and home. After stepping through the door, viewers will see an interior featuring samples of amber, slices of fossilized bark and jars filled with acorns, dried leaves and seedpods.
The luminous quality of the house underscores the idea that nature illuminates human lives with beauty, shelter and sustenance. This concept is illustrated through shreds of recycled computer paper that covers the house – the ordinary office variety. We may touch the stuff everyday, and even in our technology-saturated society, paper is still abundant around us. Paper House takes it as its most obvious building material, and reminds us that these document shreds are but trees in another form. Nature appears in many disguises.
“The charming exterior of Paper House beckons us inside, and our attention is drawn even deeper,” notes Katherine Murrell, Art History Lecturer, University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. “It is like a visual laboratory, a place for examining and considering the niches of objects and collections, retrieved from unknown origins and presented for examination. Not just a place of repose, this house has an intellectually engaged purpose.”
In her work, Backes encourages us to enjoy the beauty of nature, but also to pay attention to the experience of it. The aesthetic values in her work are a way of connecting with the viewer, and as she describes it, “a way of bringing people toward the art.”
The opening reception for Paper House is Saturday, May 7, from 6PM – 9PM. The exhibition will conclude Saturday, June 18. This is Backes’ first solo exhibition at Yellow Peril. Previously, she has presented installations with the gallery at SCOPE New York 2014, Cutlog NY 2014 and Jamestown Arts Center in 2015.
About Joan Backes
JOAN BACKES is an internationally renowned artist, and has shown in Germany, Scotland, Sweden, Iceland, Finland, Thailand, Canada, Argentina, and Chile, along with numerous places in the United States. Her work carefully examines the tree as a material and a concept. She dissects the tree almost obsessively, and looks at every physical and conceptual aspect, creating carpets of laminated leaves, painting detailed and accurate images of bark, taking crayon and graphite bark rubbings, and building installations and sculptures out of limbs and branches. Because of the universality of the tree as a symbol across cultures and generations, the resulting work touches a primal part of human imagination, and recalls a broad spectrum of literature, folklore, and art. Backes received her MFA in Painting from Northwestern University, Department of Art Theory and Practice, where she worked with Ed Paschke and William Conger. She received an MA in Painting at the University of Missouri. She received her undergraduate degree from the University of Iowa, Iowa City, Iowa. Since 2000 her paintings have focused on trees and on the effects of overdevelopment. Her installations focus on the house as image and symbol, and often incorporate site-specific materials. Backes' Carpet of Leaves often use over 1000 leaves in each installation, bringing the outside in to the gallery or museum. Public collections currently holding Backes' work include the Newport Art Museum in Newport, Rhode Island, the Rhode Island School of Design Museum in Providence, Rhode Island, Smith College Museum of Art in Northampton, Massachusetts, The Milwaukee Art Museum in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, the Joslyn Art Museum in Omaha, Nebraska, the Racine Art Museum in Racine, Wisconsin, the Mulvane Art Museum in Topeka, Kansas, the Nerman Museum of Art in Overland Park, Kansas, the Rauma Art Museum in Finland, the Aberdeen Art Gallery in Scotland, the Reykjavik Art Museum in Iceland, the Hafnarborg Institute of Culture and Fine Art Museum in Iceland, the Spencer Museum of Art in Lawrence, Kansas, the Wright Museum of Art in Beloit, Wisconsin, the Boston Public Library in Boston, Massachusetts, the John Hay Library at Brown University, Providence, Rhode Island, and the Beach Museum of Art, KSU, among others. Permanent installations of her work include Internationales Waldkunst Odenwald Forest, Darmstadt, Germany; Berlin / Grunewald, Berlin, Germany; Linnaean Garden, Uppsala, Sweden; Silpakorn University Art Atrium, Bangkok, Thailand; and Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Canada. Backes has taught at Brown University, Nova Scotia College of Art and Design, Maine College of Art Graduate Program, Rhode Island School of Design, The Kansas City Art Institute, and Northwestern University. Backes is represented by Yellow Peril Gallery in Providence, Rhode Island. For more information about Joan Backes, visit joanbackes.com.
David Winton Bell Gallery
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David Winton Bell Gallery presents exhibitions and collections of Renaissance to contemporary art. Contact museum for more information.