Michelle Ross’s work is, above all else, beautiful. It contemplates poetry, language, space, and the body. She weaves between different series using various methods that intersect as well as diverge, but all of her works share a formal elegance and refinement.
Beauty is a word that’s so overused, I try to employ it rarely, focusing instead on the larger ideas in art. But Ross’s concepts are so embedded in the formal relationships that make up her work, I can’t separate out the beauty. The tensions between opposing qualities and materials, the push-pull between gestures, the works’ thoughtful relationships with their sources and the bold geometric redaction of those sources—this beauty isn’t simple. This beauty exists because of imperfections—the revisitations of works that failed, the constant responsiveness Ross has to her own work. Too much, too exact, too raw, too light, too pink… These excesses are all part of her work, and how Ross brings them into balance creates the refinement within that work.
In both design and writing, this catalog is a thoughtful reflection of multiple sides of Ross’s art. Many aspects of her practice are explored—from a thorough consideration of her work within the wider context of the history of collage, to a personal essay about living with one of her paintings, to an interview with Ross about the relationship between her artistic practice and the studios she’s inhabited. Three writings by Ross are also included, giving us deeper insight into how she thinks about her own work and into her emphasis on language and titles.
Michelle Ross: The Desire (New and Selected Works) is the largest selection of Ross’s work exhibited in one show to date. Some of the pieces have never been shown before, including works on magazine pages that have informed larger paintings; new fabric works; and large floor pieces that Ross refers to as “floor paintings.” Presenting these pieces alongside some of her most notable paintings in recent years allows the viewer to make connections between the different bodies of work Ross has created and the diverse materials she’s used over time, leading to new understandings of her practice.
Exhibition Venue: Art Gym at Marylhurst University
On view: October 11 - December 9, 2016.