“Fallout”: Oil on canvas, 45 x 45”, Collection of the Artists Archives
"Fallout," a new solo exhibition of work by Mansfield-native Rebecca Kaler at the Artists Archives of the Western Resereve
(1834 E. 123rd St.), serves both as a highlight of the last 19 years of her creations and a celebration as she's welcomed into the AAWR's permanent collection.
Kaler harnesses influences from her travels abroad to places such as South America, Southern Africa, Siberia, Europe, Mexico, the Caribbean, Canada, and Bolivia, where she served as a volunteer in the Peace Corps. for two years.
“A major theme in Kaler’s work is the practice of mark making, using repetitive slashes and graffiti-style text to claim her place in space and time," AAWR notes in a release. "From paleolithic cave drawings, to tally marks on jail cell walls, and the ubiquitous “Kilroy” of World War II, Kaler’s paintings address the primal impulse to impact our surroundings and proclaim our existence. Using these visual markers, her work has translated into abstraction many difficult themes including a series on war and the horrific impact of nuclear weapons.”
She has spent much of her recent years developing a personal style which incorporates elements of graffiti and hovers in between the worlds of abstract and concrete.
As she describes: “I use symbols, textures, bold strokes and colors to express a spectrum of human expressions from joy to anger, fear and frustration, and of calm and serenity in a range of environments because at our very core, we all want recognition and to feel that we counted for something…to say, ‘I was here, and I did good work.’ It’s a phrase that applies globally to all cultures and always will, applying to countless objects, actions, and events, such as the atomic bomb, bullets, footprints, glacier grooves, or grave sites that bear evidence of having been.”
In the piece “Fallout,” Kaler uses words, symbols, slashes and hash marks layered upon one another over and over. There are sharp contrasts between hazy blue-toned whites and copper, rusty browns and reds against a vibrant and varying pallet that at first glance resembles an aerial photograph or a war scene obscured by haze and smoke.
Kaler, who just turned 80 this past summer, extends her work beyond the 2-D canvas to include paintings on 3-D boxes. Her boxes exhibit the same passion and vibrancy as her 2-D works but offer the viewer a different take on her colorful, energetic brush strokes, as they're layered among shapes, lines, symbols and words, seeming to come from a place of primitive intuition and spontaneous urgency.
“We use boxes for storage and to keep things safe," she says. "Then we box people in, we box in cattle so they don’t get away, or when the pressure is on, we feel boxed up, and too many problems can box us in. I took the box and gave it another meaning. I want to give the box itself a moment of glory, away from its job.”
The opening reception for this exhibition will be held at The Artists Archives of the Western Reserve Thursday, November 17 from 5:30 – 8:00 p.m. with an in-person “Meet the Artist Q & A” on Saturday, December 10 from 1:00 – 2:30 p.m. where she will discuss her history as an artist and her career as an art administrator in an intimate, conversational setting. Audience questions welcome. This event is free of charge and open to the public.
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