Jill O’Bryan’s Mapping Resonance
The mesalands south of Las Vegas, with their cliffs and metate-like depressions, make a charged environment for artist Jill O’Bryan. Feeling the presence of people who were there long ago — “grinding corn and cooking in a location that’s also an amazing lookout,” as she describes her “fantasy scenario” there — she spreads a large sheet of paper on a boulder and rubs graphite over it. Several of the resulting frottages are included in her installation Mapping Resonance at the Center for Contemporary Arts.
O’Bryan and her husband, artist Charles Ross, spend their winters in New York and summers in New Mexico. For her, the Land of Enchantment offers opportunities to focus on the body’s interaction with the harsh desert land. “This work is process-oriented in the sense that it’s not just about being in the body but about expanding the experience of being in the body outward. The rock rubbings are recordings of those events,” she told Pasatiempo.
Also in the CCA exhibition are her ink- and tea-blot Metate paintings, a series of large cone-shaped plaster vessels, and two examples of her “breath drawings.” These are intricate grids of marks, each one made in the shape of a square, a triangle, a comma, a line, a wobbly line, or a fragment of script, and each is made in the time it takes for her to make one breath: one inhalation and one exhalation. “I draw them one on top of the other 20 times before I reach the next section. I do these in marathon drawing sessions that are also meditations. Each one is perhaps six hours and that doesn’t get me through more than five or six rows. They take a long time to make. What’s important to me is that the process in some way imbues them with the time spent making them and that that somehow comes across.”
She conceives the rubbings as relating to the ground, the ink drawings as just above the ground, and the cones as close to the sky: “They’re about trying to capture the sky or in some way reflect the sky or expand out toward the sky.” Mapping Resonance opens in the Muñoz Waxman Gallery at CCA (1050 Old Pecos Trail, 505-982-1338) on Friday, Jan. 13, with a reception from 6 to 8 p.m. The piece runs through March 12 concurrently with
Madelin Coit’s Interface, an installation based on repurposed copies of THE Magazine in the center’s Spector Ripps Project Space. Both artists talk about their work at CCA on Saturday, Jan. 14: Coit at 12:30 p.m. and O’Bryan at 2 p.m. There is no charge for these events. — Paul Weideman
Jill O’Bryan, photo Alison Sirico