Psychotropic Art: Mapping the Mind
Mei Mei Chang's "Mnemonic Fragmentation" is an invitation to run along with the artist's mind.
In grade school, we learn R-O-Y-G-B-I-V to help us remember the colors of the rainbow. The abbreviation is a mnemonic device or a memory aid. It reduces a visual phenomenon to a pattern of letters that can help to later reconstruct the color spectrum.
In "Mnemonic Fragmentation," on view at VisArts through Aug. 10, DC-area installation artist Mei Mei Chang uses visual mnemonics to reconstruct a playful journey through the psyche.
Combining representational visual cues like animals, flowers, forests, buildings and urban infrastructure with abstract shapes, she leads us through familiar landscapes that erode into black holes or dissipate behind translucent layers of dripping paint and mylar cutouts.
The fantastical aesthetic pumps itself through the installation via real black vacuum tubes, allegorically conveying the speed of thought. A measured fragility in the contours of the renderings lulls us through her meditative meanders. Black tape, climbing in one-point perspective from the floor onto the gallery walls, extends the mindscape into 3D space.
Chang uses drawing, painting, sewing and 3D techniques to draw attention to different areas of the installation, to ask us to step back or examine closely.
"I use both imaginary and real places in my work," says Chang, who is interested in the intersection between interior and exterior consciousness and in creative processes she can control versus the ones that happen organically.
She provides an example:
"The process of soaking paper with layers of black bean over time creates a natural formation, which I can't control. The part I can control is the sewing and drawing, shaping the layers and colors."
Her work actually embodies this contrast, capturing the fluidity of the intuitive mind under the duress of the passage of time and of legibility to an audience. The resulting imagery stands in for the creative process.
"Our perception of this environment changes from person to person," she said of the installation. "Our external environment changes over time and so does our internal mind."
"Mnemonic Fragmentation" is an invitation to step inside the artist's reverberating mind and run with it in tandem, losing yourself in the shifting psychotropics.
Gallery hours in the Gibbs Street Gallery at VisArts are:
|Monday - Tuesday:||Closed|
|Wednesday - Friday:||12 noon to 9:00 pm|
|Saturday - Sunday:||12 noon to 5:00 pm|