about the exhibition
New Works 05.3
November 10, 2005–January 22, 2006about the artist
Katrina Moorhead’s drawings, objects, and installations focus on the seemingly ordinary. Whether translating bathroom graffiti into a planted garden or paint chips into a billboard the colors of the sky, the artist often explores artificial representations of nature and approaches each project with a delicate, spare hand that casts the familiar anew.
For her contribution to the recent 51st Venice Biennial Moorhead crafted On or About December 1981 (2005), a pair of iconic gull- wing doors from the short-lived DeLorean car, produced from 1981-83 in Northern Ireland. The artist revived the natural origins of this once-touted symbol of industrial utopianism by draining the car parts of their metallic and mechanical past. Sculpted in bass and plywood, the doors were removed from their adjacent body and lay isolated on the gallery floor like now-broken wings. This minimal work, like Moorhead’s others, is both poetic homage to intricate engineering and a melancholic exploration of the synthetic ways humans experience the natural world.
Born in Coleraine, Northern Ireland in 1971, Katrina Moorhead currently resides in Houston, TX. She received an MFA from Edinburgh College of Art, Scotland, in 1996. Solo shows include Inman Gallery (2006) and Devin Borden Hiram Butler Gallery, Houston, TX (2002, 1998). She has been included in group exhibitions at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston, TX (2005); the 51st Venice Biennial, Italy (2005); and The Vardy Gallery, University of Sunderland, England (2004).
about the project
an island as it might be physically expands Moorhead’s design and architectural explorations offering nature back to itself. The piece re-orients and abstracts an ornamental ballroom ceiling 180 degrees so that it lies on the floor; its regularity decaying while its landscape-like qualities grow. Devoid of all expected color, the eerie environment, at once artificial and organic, retains only vestiges of a once-celebratory spirit.
The gallery is disorientingly filled with a low platform painted the same white as the walls. The decorative vegetal and floral abstractions that would normally hang symmetrically above instead emerge from the floor. Mounds of plaster become hills, medallions turn into roots, moldings rupture, and illuminated chandeliers become trees. The artist has amplified the room’s air conditioner, which stimulates airflow, into a whispering sound piece that further brings the outdoors in.
Nature and artifice quietly struggle throughout. Raking sunlight duals with glowing bulbs, cast structures become topographies, ambient mechanized hums contrast with gentle winds, and raw and worked plaster get equal billing.
The ambiguous atmosphere of an island as it might be continues Moorhead’s inquiry into contemporary negotiations of the wild and the tame. In keeping with past projects, it is at once fantastical and respectful—both physically and psychologically reserved and expansive.