Laura Hughes 2010 The Span of an Instant (Photography by Wayne Bund)
I saw a beautiful piece at the Appendix Gallery: Here is a link to a piece Laura Hughes did in the Portland Building. Yes, it is much like Mary Temple's work, that you might have seen at Western Bridge but Hughes has the audacity to twist the screw further. She wasn't just holding to a verisimilitude notion of 23.5 degrees (like Temple's Seattle install), she studies the shadow over the course of a month and from that creates an impressionistic composite of the shadows that might have been. During my time in the space before the show "opened" I took note of the shadows of the arborvitaes as they cast their silhouette on top of the a-frame garage that houses the show. The likeness of those shadows was painted with phosphor infused (glow-in-the-dark) paint. It wasn't much to look at as I spoke with her and two other artists as the sun went down on Last Thursday. But after I came back from Little Field Gallery it was apparent what the slightly off-colored glossy paint was. The globosely painted forms were now shadows. Hughes also implanted a frosted window into the side of the space which creates a voyeuristic ambiance that is simultaneously creepy and warm.
After standing there for some time examining the shadows and thinking about how they referenced the arborvitaes that blocked the neighbors view on the west side of the ally -- the light went off. The shadows were still very shadow-like which may seem redundant but when it becomes many shades darker (like camping dark) it seems odd that there are still shadows. The more you think about it, the more you realize that the shadows should not be visible at all. The gestural images were so faithful that when the lights went out viewers appeared to be scrambling along the wall to justify their ghost like visions that they had just witnessed when the light was on - battling the familiar notion of retinal burn. Upon further examination it is not the voyeuristic window that is providing the shadows or necessarily the paint itself, however, the phosphor she added to the paint is now clearly emitting a blue green phantasmal glow. It takes everyone in the gallery-space feeling it with their eyes and hands to come to grips with the shadows that are now the only light in the space. Later the lighted window comes back on and a scene of normalcy returns... but you already know better... Laura Hughes' piece fits into the lexicon of Appendix and her experience based works are part of the strongest movement Portland art has to offer in its phenomenological splendor.
Laura Hughes 2010 The Span of an Instant
This shot during the performance is closer to the experience.
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