Helen Frederick, Texann Ivy Fine Arts, Orlando, Florida, September 19 – October 29
from March/April Art Papers
Two recent exhibitions in Orlando address the artist’s relationship to landscape. One of the exhibitions, Helen Frederick’s “Masse Ici” (French for “Ground Here”), at Texann Ivy Fine Arts, delves deeply into issues of our technological age and the landscape of memory. Frederick, who is the founder and artistic director of Pyramid Atlantic, an international center for printmaking, paper making, and book arts in Washington D.C., describes her current exhibition as an “overlay, a polarization between the technological culture of the twentieth century and sensory embrace of nature itself.” In joining the use of technology and these memories of her psyche, Frederick has bridged a gap that often seems insurmountable in today’s compartmentalized world. It is to her credit that not only does she not adopt this new reality, but it fully impacts her work, as it too takes on new dimensions and new levels of meaning in the process.
Frederick’s works rely on two specific sites- Acadia Island, Maine, and Slippery Rock, Pennsylvania- which are significant for the insights the have given her over the last two years. As one enters the gallery, the first image is that of a map depicting Frederick’s path as she walked the land in Maine, epitomizing her path here on Earth for the last fifty years. The landscape of her life over the last two years is further developed through images in the subsequent prints on the gallery walls. There, she explores a new history which explores technology and culture, not just her own biographical personality.
The most compelling work in the gallery is Fredericks book, Abracadabra, compiled in a collaboration with Bridgett Lambert. It is comprised of 50 images in a sequential order that represent the 50 years of Frederick’s life from 1945 to 1995. The structural aspects of this book reflect the influence on Frederick of Warhol’s grid and repitition, as she has disassembled the grid and transformed it into book form. The riveting lead image in the book, if the atom bomb, ws developed over the course of a month; the 50 individual images were printed in sequential order so that the combined layers depict the atomic bomb.
Titles such as Withdraw and Caution: Appearance and (Dis)appearance label works that merge traditional images of landscape and traditional means of printmaking with an overlay of technological images consisting of a grid of computer chips. These titles explore the fears that much of humanity harbors in regards to technological advancement and its impact on our physical reality; perhaps even separating humanity from it. In addressing these issues, Frederick makes it clear that she sees that one world is carried into another; that there is no need for the theory of separation; that the two worlds of technology and culture (and our landscape of memory) work together. A visual system of cell structure carries through many of the works representing logical order or a bridge for connecting these two worlds.