James Mullen Composites: Painting through Photography at SNHU’s McIninch Art Gallery
The McIninch Art Gallery at Southern New Hampshire University presents James Mullen Composites: Painting through Photography from Jan. 16 through Feb. 22, 2014. There will be an opening reception on Jan. 16 from 5 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. The exhibition is free and open to the public. This exhibition presents a series of works that examine the relationship between painting and photography. These pieces focus on the intersection between two robust and complex visual languages, and how they influence the way we see the world. Mullen’s previous work in painting has always maintained an interest in transitional zones. This has included the investigations of the inter-coastal landscape, exploring areas where human intervention transforms the natural environment, and even transitional times of the day. This has informed his current work as he explores the relationship between painting and photography and seeks to deconstruct that unproductive dichotomy. These two media have always been in a pas de deux that has greatly influenced their respective developments. The terrain of their intersection is exciting, complex and provocative. The hydraulic nature of this investigation poses many questions about value, labor, perception, and even what is real. What are some of our assumptions about the photographic image as compared to the painted one? How does the process of photographing a painting (Haberle Selfie), or painting a photograph (Acadia Reflection Case) influence how we think about these images? Mullen is also interested in what constitutes what we consider “natural” or “manipulated” in our environment. In Spiral Jetty, the famous earthwork is painted above a mineral display at the Museum of Natural History in New York, also arranged in a spiral formation. They are macro and micro examples of a manipulated landscape arranged in the elemental form of nature’s spiral. The painted image parallels the laborious construction of its source image, while the camera creates an undiscriminating inventory of the other. New technological advances have continued to blur the distinctions between these media, and with the advent of the digital image in photography, manipulation software like Photoshop challenges the notion of truth and authority on an unprecedented scale. Recently, the ability to print these images onto canvas supports has allowed anyone to shoot a photograph with their phone, and within a week have it printed on canvas and hanging on their wall. The physical print competes with the painted canvas with all of its attending associations. This body of work offers more questions than answers about these ideas and yet some of these questions are at the core of how we see, and subsequently. understand our world. As the cascade of images we are exposed to each day continues to proliferate, these questions will likely grow more complex. Mullen received his BFA in Sculpture from the University of New Hampshire, Durham, NH and his MFA in Painting from Indiana University, Bloomington, IN. An Associate Professor in the Visual Arts Department at Bowdoin College, Brunswick, Maine, Mullen has exhibited widely throughout the United States. His work can be found in the collections of Savannah College of Art and Design, Wichita Center for the Arts, the Ragdale Foundation and the Marriot Corporation, to name a few. Please call Debbie Disston at 603.629.4622, e-mail email@example.com or visit www.snhu.edu for additional information. The McIninch Art Gallery, which was made possible by a generous gift from the McIninch Foundation, is open Mon. through Sat. from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and Thurs. from 5 to 8 p.m. All gallery events are free and open to the public.
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