Scorched Earth, a new exhibition opening this month at the Maier Museum of Art at Randolph College, presents contemporary artist Beatrice Modisett’s recent investigations of landscapes in various states of formation, collapse, and upheaval. The exhibition opens Friday, Jan. 31 with a free, public reception from 5-7 p.m. and an artist talk by Modisett on Saturday, Feb. 1, at 11 a.m.
Modisett’s mixed media floor sculptures, large-scale drawings, and paintings illustrate the tension between the creative and destructive events, caused by both nature and humans, which shape our landscapes. Her massive paintings are formed through the accrual and erosion of layers of thinned, oil paint. Walls of dried paint, along with objects placed under and on top of the canvas, mimic hills and valleys to direct, disrupt, and imprint the paint’s flow and texture. These levees created by Modisett are “drawing tools that serve as metaphor for the systems humans construct in an attempt to control, contain, and navigate constantly shifting landscapes.”
The fiery reds beside cool grays and waves of rivulets of Modisett’s paintings recall the geologic phenomenon that shape terrain, such as eruptions, tsunamis, and shifting tectonic plates. The undulating and cracked surfaces of the paintings illuminate the highly physical process of each one’s creation. Modisett’s large-scale charcoal drawings reference cliffs, caves, and bodies of water that the artist has experienced; however, they are void of the color that would reveal their state of being.
Scorched Earth is on view through April 11. Also opening at the Maier during the College’s spring semester is Passages: An Installation in Progress by Cheryl Harper. The installation explores themes of heritage, identity, persecution, and privilege and will be on view Feb. 28-May 3.
The Maier Museum of Art houses Randolph College’s collection of American art from the 19th century to contemporary works. Open to the public year-round, the Maier offers special exhibitions, rotating displays of the collection, and educational programs. The Maier is located at 1 Quinlan St., admission is free, and its hours are Tuesday-Sunday, 1-5 p.m. (summer hours may vary). Most educational programs are also free, unless otherwise noted. Visit maiermuseum.org for more information about exhibitions and programs.
Scorched Earth is generously sponsored by Mary Gray Shockey ’69.