Donald Morgan and Virginia Poundstone often combine imagery with sculpture and space: Poundstone’s bent metal sculptures with photographs of flowers printed on their surfaces, Morgan’s flattening of dimensional objects into hard-edged abstractions. Also, both artists delve into source materials for their practices. Most recently, Morgan has looked to literary works and films to ponder the nature of adaptation, while Poundstone draws on nonfictional accounts of the flower industry in her exploration of humanity’s commodification of beauty.
In the past, iconic images from the natural world of the Pacific Northwest have been one of Morgan’s main sources. His work in Covers, Adaptations, and the Scarcity of Blue turns to fiction instead. The series Complete Works, inspired by an imaginary author’s life’s work, comprises the covers of fictitious novels reissued at the end of a fruitful literary career. Morgan displays his modernist sensibilities in the pairing of these striking cover designs with the counting dots of a children’s book. His titles appear on the upper left side of each diptych, some made up completely and some loosely adapted from books he admires. The piece Source Material (Absalom, Absalom by William Faulkner, Count and See by Tana Hoban) further emphasizes the notion of adaptation by laying out his sources in a vitrine whose color matches the black surface of the diptychs.
Poundstone’s larger-than-life images of the rare blue poppy in its Himalayan habitat, reproduced on Mylar, envelop the movable walls of the Art Gym. The slick, shiny Mylar highlights the imperfections in the walls and the material, drawing attention to the fact behind the fiction: an image of something we haven’t seen in real life, adhered to a wall, is not the rare thing itself. This truth is emphasized by a pair of images, one on the “back” of each wrapped wall, that show a joltingly artificial blue rose held by an outstretched hand, absent the natural world.
The nuances of playing with flattened images and dimensional space, as well as the intertwining of fiction and fact, evoke interesting parallels between two artists who are currently working in different subjects and mediums. As Morgan designs book covers, Poundstone’s works wrap the room like a book jacket gone askew. Her blue roses peek between the walls as viewers read the title of Morgan’s piece The Daffodil and the Vortex. Both artists explore how presentation alters the nature of a source, whether a plant or an original work of art. That alteration becomes the subject as much as the source itself in these artists’ adaptations.
On view: March 29 - May 13, 2016