SOUTH ORANGE, NJ — “What Is A Drawing?” at the Pierro Gallery, 5 Mead St. in South Orange, will run from Thursday, Nov. 8, through Saturday, Dec. 15. This is a group show that explores ways artists use drawing to think, to generate form, and to describe things and feelings. Artists in the show use the forces of nature, math and physics, as well as images from art history and other stimulus as the impetus for their work. No ordinary drawing show, “What is a Drawing?” features 13 artists whose work expands the idea of what drawing is for and what it can be. An opening reception will take place Thursday, Nov. 8, from 7 to 9 p.m. An art talk will be Thursday, Nov. 29, at 7 p.m.
This show, curated by Greg Leshe and Sandy Martiny, will feature artists Jillian Clark, Orly Cogan, Tim Daly, Daren Kendall, William Lamson, Ryan Roa, Travis LeRoy Southworth, Julia Thomson, Katie Truk, London Tsai, Jeanne Marie Wasilik, JoJo Whilden and Charles Yen.
Daly and Thomson use traditional means to create beautiful drawings; Daly’s soft pastel skyscapes over Hoboken, observed from life, manage to simultaneously evoke conflicting feelings of both peace and unease, while Thomson’s pen and ink floating landscapes were developed from her imagination and reflect a sense of meditation evoking the sound of “singing bowls.”
Several artists use materials better known under other circumstances. Clark makes chalk line drawings directly on walls, incorporating architectural features with a tool usually used by those in the building trades. Roa stretches black rubber bungee cords between walls, creating a three-dimensional drawing that jumps into the room. Truk also brings line into three-dimensional space, stretching nylon materials over, around and through wire forms.
Needle and thread, once used for utility and decoration by generations of women, become drawing tools for Cogan, upending figural compositions better recognized from life drawing class and infusing them with a sweetly satirical feminist perspective. Southworth also deals with image and beauty, but from a fashion industry outlook that comments on how we present ourselves to the world; his prints and sculptures are directly related to the act of photo retouching, mapping and preserving the erasure and re-drawing that takes place before an image is published.
Two artists use video to explore line and form. Kendall records himself manipulating building materials, then erases himself from the video, leaving us with dancing lines and mysterious sounds, while Lamson harnesses natural forces through primitive machines he makes to create drawings of wind, gravity and water. Tsai taps into his education and passion as a mathematician to make beautiful activated drawings of mathematical theory.
Yen makes quick brushy drawings in ink and watercolor that may be diaristic, but also resonate more broadly with the emotional tenor of life lived today. Whilden photographically captures found drawings made by the tires of cars, recognizable, yet out of context. Wasilik also works in this realm but in a different way, as she makes quick sketches in paint of figures from late Goya, particularly the print series “Los Disparates”; divorced from their original media and context, the figures float free in black space, a link for us today who, like Goya, grapple with disquieting times.