"Out of Place," Christy Gast's new show at Miami's Gallery Diet, will feature burlap sculptures made in the artist's studio. This is a departure from her two previous Miami shows, which featured video installations in which the artist explores public land and the meaning of specific landscapes.
"I like to spend time outside, away from people," Gast says.
"Batty Cave," filmed on a desert mountain in Utah, was based on the story of two men who built an ark in a mountain cave because they were expecting a flood of biblical proportions. The center screen of the three-channel video installation shows Gast's hands arranging stones and scraps of rusted metal and glass to form a pictogram that tells the men's story. "Herbert Hoover Dyke," the other video installation, reveals Gast wearing a dark tuxedo jacket, white pants and a cowboy hat and tap-dancing on the 30-foot high berm that prevents Lake Okeechobee from flowing into the Everglades and suburban expanses.
While location scouting for the latter video, Gast visited flea markets and thrift stores to buy objects that had been used in the communities surrounding Lake Okeechobee and incorporated them into sculptures that became props in her video. "The sculptures were very spontaneous, and I liked working with objects that already had a specific use in the world," Gast recalls. "So when I finished that project, I decided to work on sculptures in the studio for a while."
The sculptures replicate — but are twice as big as — the assemblages Gast made from materials gathered at the lake and other outdoor sites. She says the resulting exhibition, "Out of Place," explores "the collision that occurs when two notions regarding studio practice meet." Those notions are "A Room of One's Own," Virginia Woolf's 1929 essay about a personal space in which to focus without distraction, and "The Function of the Studio," a 1971 essay Daniel Buren wrote about releasing artists from their confines.
"Written only 40 years apart, these texts locate creativity and cultural production in very different contexts," Gast says. "As an artist who has largely worked within the post-studio tradition, I have mostly used my studio as an office from which I plan productions, so closing the door and creating something new within those four walls seems a bit retrograde in an interesting way, like time-traveling back to 'A Room of One's Own.'
"Every day, I would work on a piece that was already started, and start something new," Gast continues. "This forced me to work without a premeditated outcome, in a very uncritical manner, on pieces whose size was determined by what I could reach, what could fit into the studio. … When I had a body of work, a series of sculptures which existed within the walls of the studio, the work really pointed to the context of the studio. This led me to reflect on that context as many artists have before, as a cultural landscape."
Colleen Dougher operates the South Florida arts blog Arterpillar.
Christy Gast: Out of Place
When: Opens 6-9 Thursday and runs through May 12
Where: Gallery Diet, 174 N.W. 23rd St., Miami
Contact: 305-571-2288 or Gallerydiet.comCopyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun