REVIEWS and INTERVIEWS
Fresh Eyes, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston 2012.
Johnson, Empty Full 2009, Video Documentary, August 2009.
Hodges, 'Scarab Club Intrigues with Snowden Exhibition,' Detroit News, March 7 2018
If you’re around Detroit’s Scarab Club and have a spare 20 minutes, you owe it to yourself to duck in and walk through the first-ever “Snowden Exhibition” on the ground floor.
The show is up through March 31.
Named for the late, much-mourned artist and College for Creative Studies professor Gilda Snowden, the show, juried by local critic and Essay’d contributor Sarah Rose Sharp, has a gratifying number of high points.
First Place went to a complex installation by Traverse City artist Mary Fortuna called “Box for Papa Legba” that resembles a ruby-red altar studded with sacred artifacts.
“Papa Legba is one of the principal Haitian voodoo spirits or ‘loa,’ ” Fortuna explains, “the one you go to when you’re going to perform a ritual. You ask Papa Legba permission to access the spirit world. He’s the gatekeeper.”
Fortuna is perhaps best known in the art world for making odd and affecting dolls, which often seem more supernatural than anything a little girl would play with.
No dolls here. Instead we find a range of what Fortuna calls “amulets” that dot the altar as well as hang above it, and enshroud the composition with unexpected meaning and mystery.
Another installation worth seeking out is Ann Arborite Hannah Burr’s extraordinary “My Father’s Last Day,” which took an Honorable Mention. Wood squares, a bit like thin beige books, are arranged and piled in lop-sided rows, with green ribbons, squares of colored fabric, and bright-red and orange cloth flowers here and there in between the volumes.
Burr’s label explains that the green ribbons represent “tender moments” on her father’s last day, the many wood squares “labored breaths,” and the flower-like papers “physical contact with family.”
Sharp, 'We Don’t Even Have Faces with Hannah Burr, 'sarahrosesharp.com/breakfast-with-the-artist/ 2018
Artist: Hannah Burr
HB – Hot water, cold water
SRS – Shrimp kau, green onion pancake, spicy salted tofu, white rice, hot tea
At the time of our BWTA, Hannah was in the midst of specialized diet experiment intended to target her migraines. She very gamely observed as I inhaled roughly 2,500 calories of Chinese food, commenting that it was nice, even, to get to watch someone eating stuff she couldn’t eat at the moment. April 1 will be the ten year anniversary of me quitting smoking, so I know what she means – sometimes I still enjoy it when smokers are around me (sometimes not).
Image courtesy of the artist.
Hannah is a relatively recent transplant to the area, after spending much of life born, raised, and making art in Boston. She’s still figuring out how and where to fit in to a new city, and how to connect with Detroit while based in Ann Arbor. Before I met her in person, I blind-picked a couple of works in her Stand-In series as part of the 2018 Snowden Exhibition. In these works, Hannah assembles sets of objects into arrangements on shelves, then accompanies them with a legend that identifies these shapes and materials (wood blocks, ribbons, sections of astroturf) as abstractions of actions, feelings, or points of interpersonal connection (labored breaths, sharing silence, brushing against you). These are subsets of a larger project, You Are Legend, which expands this practice into environmental observations. Like Hannah herself, these works are open and sincere, unimposing, but also very present.
One of Hannah’s works in at the Scarab Club – show runs through March 31!
It took until almost the end of the meal for Hannah to start to waxing existential. Up to that point, it was the usual sort of first-meeting fumble for common ground or points of connection. Hannah is an easy conversationalist, able to pick up threads of interest and follow them in almost any direction. It turns out that she has a longstanding meditation practice, and through one of her meditation retreats, she met the person she would go on to marry. This is the relationship that brought her to the Detroit area, and it’s clear that Hannah considers it a formative experience and opportunity to learn new things. People who like to learn new things are fascinating. Whether it is adopting an almost 100% protein diet, or getting married way after she’d considered that single status was a forgone conclusion, Hannah seems to embrace change with equanimity.
The best thing she said – and I’m kicking myself for not recording us – had to do with perceiving oneself as a window. According to Hannah, most people think of themselves as moving through time and situations, but in fact, they are moving through us. We are like a window, looking out through our faces at whatever is passing by our window. “I don’t know that I have a face!” says Hannah, excited and utterly delighted by this notion. “I can only see your face! All the information I have about my face is coming from your face!” She says that she and her husband initially connected on the idea that they don’t even have faces.
It’s such a relief, really. I worry a lot about not wearing make-up, but obviously that doesn’t matter at all, if I don’t have a face. Really, talking to Hannah leaves one with the feeling that any kind of nagging worry is best set aside. There is a lot going on that is more interesting to pay attention to than our petty, self-conscious concerns.She has made two artist books, so far, and I’m curious to read them. I bet they have wisdom.
I’m going to try to track them down, but meanwhile, life is moving through our window all the time. Don’t miss it!
I think Hannah’s going to do just fine around here.
Link to Review with pictures!
Yang, Interview with Artist Hannah Burr. www.yanqingyang.com, December 2015.
McQuaid, 'Burr Tallies Experiences Poignantly at 555Gallery,' the Boston Globe, July 9 2014.
Hannah Burr makes abstract sculptures that represent real experiences. In her show at 555 Gallery, she assigns particular objects — blocks of wood, ribbons — to specific increments of an experience. The accumulation of objects then embodies a memory. The results are strangely risible and poignant.
She chooses experiences mundane and extraordinary. For “Interval Between Appointments” she counted cars passing (wooden wedges), bites taken (petals of lavender fabric), intervals of quiet (ocher strips), and texts received (pebbly gray-black pieces of hard foam). It’s all piled in a jumble on a corner shelf. She tucks the little ocher strips between the edges and planes of the wood like cushions. The lavender bursts read like tiny oases. The whole oddly captures waiting.
The small, intimate “My Father’s Last Day” counts labored breaths, tender moments, physical contact with family, and lucid intervals. The breaths — panels of pale wood — lean into one another, some short, some long. The lucid intervals, held by slips of pink paper, are infrequent. In this piece, the economy of Burr’s system, goofily effective in other works (she has a frothy rendering of the movie “Clueless”), takes on gravity, distilling her experience of her father’s final moments into a sculptural haiku, delicate and powerful.
Burr has several small abstract drawings, paintings, and sculptures on view, as well. In her attention to material and form, her abstract work has always conveyed something awkward and nervy. This new approach to depicting experience (who knows, maybe she has been doing it all along; doesn’t good art always represent the ineffable?) gives viewers a clear way in. She is explicit in her details, even as she abstracts them. We look at her stand-ins for real life, and we relate.
Photographer Gail Samuelson also has a small show at 555. Her digital photos of water’s glimmery surface are all too familiar, but her images of a swamp bathed in creamy late-afternoon light, such as “Beaver Swamp, Fall #1” feel otherworldly. The sky has a hint of tangerine, which, together with the pale, blue-green standing water infuses this forested area with light; it feels at once dense and sparse. Surely, it is a magical place.
Sigal, 'The Intuitionists, Drawing Papers 116,' The Drawing Center, 2014.
The Drawing Center's Drawing Papers Volume 116 featuring an introduction by Lisa Sigal and an essay by Heather Hart, Steffani Jemison, and Jina Valentine.
Big Red & Shiny Artist in Residence, Introduction by Clint Baklowski Nov – Dec 2013.
Our Daily Red is pleased to continue our artist-in-residence series, "Inside Out." Every other month, a new guest artist will have access to the platform to publish images and jot down thoughts about inspiration, obsession, creative failures and insights. Unlike an 'Open Studio' format which is predicated on potential sales, BR&S wants to provide the artist-in-residence with an outlet to place their practice in a more public realm, offering an expanded look at the creative process and placing emphasis on the time ideas and works take to mature. It is not expected that the artist produce anything finished or specific to BR&S in this time, only that they candidly share their explorations.
Introducing: Hannah Burr
It is my privilege to introduce our next artist for our Inside Out series, Hannah Burr. After meeting Hannah through friends, in 2012, I stumbled upon her exhibition in the Linde Wing of Contemporary Art at the Museum of Fine Arts, Fresh Eyes. Hannah worked with nearly one hundred middle school students to record what they responded to when viewing the MFA’s voluminous collection. Her use of these physical materials to show fleeting interactions, creating organization in what otherwise would be the chaotic process, was brilliant. The patterns that emerged and use of color was both gorgeous and engaging.
Since then I’ve supported her Kickstarter art project entitled Whatever Works Book Project. This clever book of ‘blunt prayers to whatever works’ has provided a little humor to what otherwise would be a vast array of self-help books that border new-agey. It’s definitely worth a read.
Hannah is no stranger to Boston’s art scene. Her curriculum vitae is replete with substantial awards from the Massachusetts Cultural Council & Berkshire Taconic Foundations, to a MacDowell Colony Fellowship. Her most recent solo exhibitions include Fresh Eyes at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, PlaceHolders, at the Ganser Gallery in Millersville University, PA, and Attendant hosted by the Currier Museum in 2012.
Please join me in welcoming Hannah! Look for her first post as our Artist in Residence on Monday.
WGBHArts Blog Go Straight to the Art, on Fresh Eyes . August 2012
ART STUDY oF LINUS' BLANKET, A REVIEW OF PLACEHOLDERS, SOLO SHOW BY HANNAH BURR AT MILLERSVILLE UNIVERSITY, THE SNAPPER, April 14, 2021 here
'Spring Selections 2008,' Gold, The Drawing Center. 01 11 08 [The Drawing Center]
New York, January 11, 2008 - From February 22 to March 27, 2008,
The Drawing Center will present Selections Spring 2008, a group exhibition featuring the work of nine emerging artists chosen from the Viewing Program. Curator Nina Katchadourian selected the artists in the exhibition through an associative process, sifting through notes from a year's worth of portfolio review meetings and browsing the newly launched online artist registry to gather together these works which, through their various styles and approaches, reflect the breadth and complexity of drawing today.
The shared characteristics and artistic motivations of the works in the exhibition range from atmospheric to topographical, from diagrammatic tendencies to casually obsessive ones. Placed in the company of the others, each body of work affects the viewing experience of the next, while retroactively changing the memory of the preceding one. Participating artists include: Hannah Burr, David Clarkson, Isabelle Cornaro, Dianna Frid, Brian Lund, Tina Schneider, Casey Jex Smith, Kate Smith, and Andrea Sulzer. Selections Spring 2008 is curated by Viewing Program Curator Nina Katchadourian.
ABOUT THE ARTISTS
Hannah Burr (Cambridge,MA) attempts to make visible the residue of accumulated actions or unremarkable events within a space. For Selections Spring 2008, Burr will translate her observations of human gestures, interactions, and random occurrences during the exhibition's installation period into a private vocabulary of layered marks within the space.
David Clarkson's (New York, NY) detailed ink drawings look at first glance like photographic landscapes of the American West, but are, in fact, drawings of the planet Mars. Using images selected from thousands of photographs taken by NASA robots, Clarkson's landscape drawings emphasize the experience of the image, calling into question whether what is seen is real or imaginary, fact or illusion.
Isabelle Cornaro (Paris, France) uses a set of family jewelry, displayed on plywood, to schematically mimic landscape compositions inspired by photographs taken in the Central African Republic in the 1970s. The interaction between the landscape and objects used in the drawings reflects on the economic implications of the French colonial presence in Africa, an important source of gold and diamonds.
Dianna Frid (Chicago, IL) will create a mixed-media drawing incorporating the floor, wall, and columns of the Main Gallery. Using Ferris wheel diagrams as a starting point, Frid's work explores the tension that occurs when images or drawings stray from the original intent and are treated as sculptural or spatial objects.
Brian Lund (New York, NY) employs a self-invented graphic vocabulary to translate the editing systems of motion pictures into abstract compositions. Using an archive of charts, notes, lists, and film-still sketches, Lund constructs drawings that interpret films as linear progressions.
Tina Schneider (Brooklyn, NY) works intuitively to reinvent space in her paper and ink drawings. Building up and out from very simple materials, architectures are unearthed using a variety of ink marks and deconstructed paper.
Casey Jex Smith (Atherton, CA) calls on his own Mormon faith and belief system to create a visual narrative of spiritual experiences using appropriated imagery. Through his drawings, he attempts to make the spiritual visible in the physical world, bringing together religion and contemporary art.
Kate Smith (Derby, England) explores the results of conscious and unconscious actions or gestures as indicators of human presence. In creating the works on view in this exhibition, Smith applied her inked hands to a paper surface, then magnified and analyzed the resulting marks through drawing.
Andrea Sulzer (Woolwich, ME) draws to make thought and sensation visible. In this exhibition, Sulzer will present Spillway, the largest and most intricate of her recent drawings. Evocative of a map, it is a vast imagined aerial landscape, made up of a proliferation of tiny marks of ink on paper. Interested in representing the experience of memory and time, Sulzer's drawings serve the opposite function of a map - allowing the viewer to get lost in the images as they shift, dissolve, and reorganize themselves, like the fluid and unstable nature of memory.
'The Year in Arts: Cate McQuaid's Top Ten,' Cate McQuaid,
The Boston Globe. 12 26 04 [Judy Goldman Fine Art]
Three younger artists had outstanding shows. Hannah Burr's exhibit at Judy Ann Goldman Fine Art proves her to be a consistently deep and challenging painter of beautiful abstract work. Catlin Rockman's paintings at Green Street Gallery were a lowbrow spectacle of highbrow technical artistry. They depicted buxom female action figures with a virtuosity that addressed a host of questions that rise in 21st-century art. Tanya Steinberg's heart-rending paintings at the Nielsen Gallery set contemporary images cadged from newspaper photos in the framework of the Stations of the Cross, the chapters in the story of Christ's crucifixion. Making political art that is not shrill or vacuous is a feat indeed; Steinberg's work did not blame or judge, it merely sparked compassion.
It's heartening that the best work by young artists this year was all in paint -- Burr's abstractions, Steinberg's narratives, and Rockman's blend of the two. Technology drives a lot of new art, but painting continues to renew itself and go deeper.
'Her complex art proves elusive yet satisfying,' Cate McQuaid,
The Boston Globe. 10 15 04 [Judy Goldman Fine Art]
Hannah Burr works mostly as a painter, but her tiny "Plateau" sculptures, which are up at Judy Ann Goldman Fine Art along with paintings and works on paper, perfectly illustrate the lush complexity of the way she thinks -- and the clarity with which she expresses it.
"Plateau III" comprises a stack of white cards, staggered back from the bottom. Burr has poured black paint over the edge that faces us, but it doesn't obscure the strata, the tiny staircase of curved steps leading to the top of the deck. Beside it squats a chunk of wood, its bottom also dipped in black, but its top offers up both the grain of the material and its jagged cut. In short, the work is all about layers: of texture, color, material, dimension, and the way it has all been made. In the back pocket of every piece in the show is yet another way to approach it.
For all that, Burr's works have a deceptive innocence. They welcome you in with warm colors, easy gestures, or pillowy structures, then surprise you with much more inside than you ever expected. Yet Burr knows when to stop. She doesn't clutter up her paintings with too many ideas. It's all just one idea: Forget about certainty -- embrace complexity. It can be beautiful.
In her works on paper, the cuts, tears, and impressions make up the first level. "Water Study, Gloucester, 11-04" tangles with ribbony creases, like kelp pulled by the tide. To one side, Burr has stippled the paper, perhaps pressing it with a fine grater. Then, color: washes of pale blue, their upper edges suggesting shifting planes, like waves. Finally, the drawing: Burr's trademark looping gesture that in its unfolding shape whispers of three dimensions. The piece floats like translucent veils, soft and dreamy, but the gesture hints at an ungraspable solidity.
Every time I see Burr's work, I go in wondering what I will have to get my head around this time. It's perennially elusive art. Despite that, or maybe because of it, it never fails to satisfy. The gallery nicely pairs Burr's almost-but-not-quite representational work with Petah Coyne's photographs. Coyne is better known for large-scale sculptural installations, wildly expressionistic uses of wax and plaster. That baroque imagination comes through in her black-and-white photos, but mostly there's a pared-down idea at work here. "Fourth of July" is a series of small images depicting an amusement park ride -- a swing, a boy's leg -- but mostly in shadows and in the fuzzy rush of movement. Their somber, even ominous, mood tenses well against their playful subject.
Pools of light, and dark Stephen Coyle's paintings at Chase Gallery spring from juicy territory: the bleary intersection of luminosity and darkness. Coyle has always painted subjects that hint at wounds and loneliness, but in a way that grabs the eye and takes it dancing. This time around, his subjects include traffic and inflatable pools. The pools are the tour de force. Coyle offers them up glowing, as if from within, the night thick around them. "Urban Pool: Two Adults, One Child" has no people in it, just the luminescent turquoise of the wading pool, which has transparent sides decorated with sea flora and fauna.
'An Artist's Eye Interprets Product Design and Development,'
Babson College Newsroom. 10 25 05 [Babson]
Boston artist Hannah Burr, with five Babson MBA students in a Product Design and Development course, presents "Room 204: Visual Traces of Groups at Work," a cumulative art installation, now through December 22.
Senior lecturer and entrepreneur William Stitt teaches MBA students the process of product design from concept to prototype by having small groups work together to develop a specific product for real life application. One of these groups of five students meets in Room 204 and has agreed to be filmed for Burr's project. Between meetings, Burr watches the film and records patterns of motion, speech, interaction, and ambient sound in quantitative lists from which she makes corresponding 'marks' in the furniture and room elements. These marks emerge gradually as the weeks progress.
Burr translates the dynamic energy of the group as it interacts, into an art work that changes the physical qualities of the meeting room itself. She re-expresses each observed behavior with her 'marks,' transforming the space into an evolving abstracted graph.
'bad touch,' Donna Desrochers, The Brandeis Reporter. 09 09 03 [Rose Art Museum]
Drawing has traditionally been and still is at the core of academic artistic training. Aspiring artists are encouraged to acquire the essential skill of drawing and to practice extensively in composition, perspective, and anatomy before moving to other media. In its nonacademic form, drawing is often considered the most immediate creative expression, directly reflecting the artist's style without premeditation.
bad touch turns away from the academic drawing style and casts light on the second category of drawing, which conveys a "bad touch" spirit in either style or subject matter. "Bad" is to be understood in the sense that the works do not seem to be carefully crafted representations, but rather loose and spontaneous drawings, rapid and rough sketches, personal notes torn out of notebooks, artful or aimless doodles, scribbles, etc. "Bad" can also refer to their subjects, sometimes bold, provocative, or humorous.
Initiated by Bill Thelen, of lump gallery in Raleigh, N.C. and co- curated by The Rose's Raphaela Platow, bad touch is a traveling, ever- expanding exhibition that features more than 90 emerging artists from around the world. Hannah Burr, Rebecca Doughty, Daniel Dueck, Heather Hobler-Keene, Spencer James, Melora Kuhn, and Sharon Kaitz, are among the Boston artists represented.
The exhibition has been shown in Raleigh, N.C., Philadelphia, Chicago, and London, and is slated for future stops in Los Angeles, Tokyo, and Berlin, among others. As every venue integrates artists who live and work in the respective cities, the concept of bad touch is flexible and constantly changing. Every manifestation of bad touch creates a fresh dialogue with newly added artistic perspectives that reinvestigate the notion of drawing as a unique and personal medium.
'Burr Warrants Attention,' Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe. 06 13 03 [Judy Goldman Fine Art]
Judy Ann Goldman Fine Art rounds out the season with a group show, ''Adventures in Abstraction.'' I went to see Hannah Burr's paintings; the young artist makes provocatively elusive work, both hard to make sense of and hard to walk away from. Burr, 29, the youngest artist in the group, stands apart because her paintings are th most expressionist, and also the most abstract in that they resist any kind of narrative value. Burr anchors her fields and layers of glossy paint with a central, hovering structure that might be a biplane falling to pieces. It stretches through the layers of paint, creating a sense of distance, or a dream of landscape. The paint envelops and then seems to spit the structure out; the glossy sheen of the surface almost pushes the viewer away from some tenderness happening just below the surface. All her pieces here are both sensual and hard. They seem like the work of a young painter, especially among the paintings of more established artists, but they have a haunting edge.
The rest of the group ably grapples with the juncture between commercial graphic design and art. Jim Isermann is a granddaddy of this particular movement: For years, he's been appropriating design elements from the 1960s, like shag rugs, and turning them into museum pieces. Here, he offers bright, mod drawings that nod to Sol LeWitt and that could be plans for stained glass windows. Carrie Moyer's paintings also refer back to the '60s, specifically to protest symbols such as fists and peace signs. She layers them with splashes and drips of paint to make sophisticated melanges that, like Isermann's works, marry highbrow with lowbrow. Santiago Hernandez starts with natural images but puts them on his tilted, diamond-shaped canvases in stylized symbols, like flowers and the elements of the smiling yellow happy face. These bold graphics set out on a tilt-a-whirl around the canvas, making an almost psychedelic experience. David Kelley's eloquent use of polka-dotted speech bubbles from comic strips hovering over solid forms makes for bright, boppy paintings that nonetheless suggest the many layers of meaning in speech.
Artists have been co-opting elements of graphic design since Warhol, if not before. Burr aside, these artists, led by Isermann, represent another level -- one that doesn't play up the cultural contrast between high and low art, but erases it.
'Aesthetic Sneezes,' Lisa Falco, Artsmedia Magazine. 10 15 02 [Montserrat College of Art]
I might have been entering a laboratory or a clean room: the large rectangular space was perfectly white, brightly lit, and the gentle whir of the air conditioning units subsumed the noise of the outside world. Here was the perfect environment for an experiment of shifting size and perspective. There were small specimens under glass, large contraptions suspended from the ceiling and sheets of white matte paper like aerial maps painstakingly pinned to the white wall. Was I in some sort of a nano-lab or computer chip manufacturing plant? Ought I to be wearing a HAZMAT suit? Had I, like Alice, unwittingly fallen into a wonderland of space and time?
Actually, I had entered the Montserrat Gallery in Beverly to see an exhibit entitled "Distillation," featuring artists Doug Bosch and Hannah Burr, curated by Laura Donaldson. Clearly there is an experiment chronicled within these walls, though not a scientific one, per se. Rather, in "Distillation" artists Bosch and Burr reveal the evolutionary process of discovery in art: they show the incremental steps they have each taken in exploring both the limits and possibilities of their repsective art forms.
No HAZMAT suit is needed to view this exhibit, though allergy sufferers should potentially beware, because Bosch works with an unlikely material in his sculpture: refined and unrefined pollen. Yes, it's the same powdery susbstance that frosts the glass of automobiles and cascades over the surfaces of ponds and lakes in our own neighborhoods, but Bosch manages to mix and manipulate large amounts of it into unusual and surprisingly striking forms. under glas, curator Donaldson has arranged "Drop Studies," threads dipped in vegetable cellulose, then refined pollen, and later arranged like chains with dainty golden pendants at a jewerly counter.
In "Grains,"which is alo under glass, oversized yellow-green olives of pollen are pinned (though not wriggling) in systematic rows. In these "grains" the pollen is so fine and is fused so precisely that the forms look like delicate meringue confections. It's a good thing that they are under glass, because as odd as it sounds, the temptation to pop one onto the tongue and experience that texture is great. To the right of the glass case are still larger forms arranged in the open air, created by mixing pollen with water, shaping the resulting clay, and allowing the pieces to dry. One looks like a muffin top newly emerged from a baker's oven, a smooth surface with cracks and crevices where it has begun to split. Another rectangle of pollen looks like a mud brick or sponge laid out to dry.
Though most of the pieces appear quite solid, they are clearly not meant to be handled, and could conceivably be turned to dust in a pair of palms.
Having experimented with these smaller-scale scultpures in pollen, the remainder of pieces in Bosch's portion of the exhibit focus on large-scale works. One of these works, "Slabs," consists of fifty or more rectanglular slabs of pollen piled into windswept dunes on top of a white table. These slabs of pollen are pretty large - perhaps the size of a slice of toast - and though their surfaces are incredibly smooth, many of them are riddled wiuth cracks that developed during the drying process, demonstrating the fragility of Bosch's medium. Another remarkable piece is Bosch's nine foot long bundle of "Pollen Rods," suspended from the ceiling. Here many threads have been dipped in pollen and allowed to dry, as in candle-making, where the wick is dipped repeatedly in wax. The threads were then gathered together, like a ponytail, and suspended from the ceiling.
Having been left alone in the gallery, I was able to satisfy my urge to stroke this golden hair by blowing ever-so-gently on the rods and watching them sway, separate, and swing back into alignment.
Fortunately, they remained in tact and my desire to touch the remaining pollen scultpures, such as the rope-like, "Rod Pile," and silicon, "Disc Pile," was temporarily appeased.
Dominating the other half of the white room are the mixed media scultpures, paintings and drawings of Hannah Burr. Among them are the large, aerial, map-like sheets of paper, "Frontier 1" and "Frontier 2," that caught my eye when I first entered the sterile room. In these pieces, displayed edge to edge in one of the corners of the room, a blue chalk horizon line extends across each page, and clusters of graphite marks among solitary lines seem to indicate areas of concentration and emptiness in an alien landscape.
Curiously, there is evidence of repetition and experimentation in Burr's work, as well as Bosch's. In several of her pieces there is a figure of an unfolded architectural frame that reappears in drawing after drawing. It is outlined in graphite sketches, pale blue ink, and royal blue paint and resembles a chain of unfolding lawn-chair frames - the haunting blue prints of a new space station perhaps. Doubtless, the prototype for this figure appears in various stages of its evolution in the three stacked and banded piles of "Draw Through It" as well. Here, Burr has collected her sketches and doodles on bits of scrap paper and junk mail into three piles and bound them together with rubber bands. These freestanding stacks literally and figuratively document Burr's scientific method of production. With its emphasis on the process by which a set of results is obtained, this piece might also be titled, Show Your Work."
Some of Burr's work is notably different in the way it incorporates color. In "Yellow # 1" for example, the lawn-chair framework is present, but it has been filled in with a deep yellow paint. The gesture tranforms the frame into what looks like the body of a puppet, its limbs suspended from strings extending beyond the top of the canvas, which is actually a piece of wood.
Her most recent works, three dimensional table maps from the "Drape" series concentrate more on the tactile experience of planar forms, though they incorporate several elements from her earlier works. The "drape" pieces look like tarps formed into mountain ranges, coated in matte white enamel. They are reminiscent of topographical maps that reveal geologic forms via texture and shape. Dotted with tiny nobs of green or yellow paint, the "Drape" pieces especially appeal to the viewer's sensation of touch. Having anticipated this, Burr has included a sample of folded, enamel-dipped paper in her guest book, so that it may be handled, examined, and transported about the room.
In "Distillation," curator Laura Donaldson displays the actual distillation process that occurs in the works of Doug Bosch and Hannah Burr. Within the clean white confines of the Montserrat Gallery, exhibit-goers witness a development and purification of art forms in a deliberate, methodical and experimental journey of discovery. Bosch's pollen scultpures evolve from small specimens into wonderfully large, bee's-eye-view configurations.
Meanwhile, Burr's enamel-dipped drawings and doodles emerge as the blueprints for her latest three-dimensional table-top scultpures - tactile landscapes of the imagination as viewed from an undisclosed distance above.
'Exhibit Embraces Landscapes of the Imagination,'Cate McQuaid,the
Boston Sunday Globe, 9 22 02
Landscapes tell us where we are. They set the horizon line, the sky and the earth; they open to us and place us. Hannah Burr and Doug Bosch probe at and expand ideas of landscape in "Distillation," their show at the Montserrat College of Art Gallery, curated by Laura Donaldson. Here, landscape extends beyond space to embrace time, texture, and three-dimensional space. The two artists work to different ends, each acheiving clear and haunting visions of the environment.
Viewers with hay fever may want to steer clear, because Bosch's primary sculptural medium is pitch-pine pollen, collected over the last six years from a lake front in northern New Hampshire. His discourse with landscape begins with this stuff of the land, wich he mixes with silicon or cellulose or simply compresses into bricks.
Donaldson titled the show "Distillation" because she sees a clarifying process in the evolution of each artist's work. For Bosch, it's the scientific investigation of his material and its possibilities: Each scultpure distills the artistic potential of the pollen. Bosch works in multiples, many pollen bricks, many pollen pads, many pollen coated tapers. The sheer volume of his work echoes that of the original material on a spring day, only here specks of dust have been enlarged and transformed, making the viewer into a kind of Gulliver among giants.
The pollen begs to be touched - it's fine, cakey, brown-sugar toned. "Pollen Rods" features a cluster of strings, each perhaps 8 feet long and dipped repeatedly in a concoction of pollen and cellulose. Unlike a horizon line though, this form feels precarious, and unpredictable. Burr draws it over every kind of surface she can find; in fact, she presents stacks of junk mail over which she has doodled as evidence of her process. In "Small Series: Fold Pour Poke Mark," she dips found paper in enamel paint, covering most of it but leaving traces at the top bare. Then she draws on the enamel. One piece started as an old list on lined paper dated 1934. Despite the thickness of the enamel, you can glimpse the script beneath and see how Burr's jazzy drawings take off from it. Using ephemera such as this, she reaches not just through space, but through time.
Bosch knots the strings together at the top and hangs them from the ceiling, a cylindrical drape suspended over a white panel, which catches any pollen that falls and hints at the process of pollination itself. In "Drops," he accumulates thick gobs of the same mixture at the nadirs of several looped strings. These dumplings could be bits of flesh strung in a horizontal line (another landscape reference) at a brief distance from the wall, casting eerie shadows.
Bosch's landscape is a strange one. Its tactile quality is alluring, even cozy, but the whole feels as if things could run wildly amok.
Burr's landscape is only slightly more traditional, in that most of her offerings are drawings and paintings. She begins with obsessive, repetitive mark-making - not unlike the way Bosch obsessively investigates his pollen. Burr's drawings and paintings mostly feature the same gesture: planes expanding and unfolding, like a never-ending map or an accordian cut open. This gesture affects the viewer like a horizon line: It anchors us in space and creates depth, inviting us into the illusion of the artwork.Burr's newest works take her art to another dimension. She drapes enamel coated paper over sacks of flour on a table. The 'drawing' consists of folds and creases that resemble the planes in her other works. The drapery, the folds, and the scattered dots of thick paint standing out of the surface offer a new layer of topography and a new inquiry into the possibilities of landscape.
Bosch and Burr differ in their choices of material and scale. Bosch makes us no larger than an ant, exploring the environment created by bits of pollen. Burr shrinks the land, distilling but not simplifying it's significance to us, finding the beauty not in sky, earth, and water but in the creation and recreation of space itself.
The Boston Globe
'Hannah Burr,' Curator Laura Donaldson, Montserrat College of Art, 09 02
Hannah Burr creates drawings and paintings that are influenced from sources as varied as Duchamp to the view from an altitude of 10,000 feet. Drawing organic schematics on surfaces ranging from standard drawing paper to junk mail to a letter from 1838, she combines thoughtful examination with a willingness to explore and expand traditional media.
Burr's work begins with inquiry. Six years ago, she set herself the question of interpretting the landscape. Intitially this was a strategy developed to focus her energies, "to constrain all the possibilities." The landscape was supposed to be a one-month project, but as a subject, Burr found it a sympathetic outlet for her natural mark making language. It is still apparent in much of her work. In Small Series 22, a graphite line traces a gently rolling horizon line reminiscent of a small hillside. Below this horizon, a seemingly continuous gestural green paint stroke lays out what could be a mapmaker's first sketch. With a few lines Burr creates a sense of volume and space that far exceeds the small scale of the drawing.
Setting parameters helps Burr expand her creative options. In the stacked drawing piece, Draw Through It, Burr has collected sketches she did over several years as part of her preparatory process. Limiting herself to using only 8.5 X 11" sized paper ripped into quarters led her to use a variety of paper sources, incuding her junk mail. Like a sketchbook, the drawings were used striclty to warm her up, she does not consider an individual drawing in and of itself a final piece. Burr has stacked several hundred of these sketches into three piles bound with rubber bands. They are not to be looked through, but are presented as documentation of a process.
Burr has a growing interest in drawing as object. She has also long been interested in forms of documentation that have held some sort of significance at one point - ledgers, diaries, receipts, etc. Combining these interests, she dips found paper in enamel paint in Small Series 13. The dipping arose out of wanting to find a way to "thicken" paper, to give it dimensionality. She researched and tested different paints, eventually finding an enamel that gave her the desired effect. In Small Series 13, Burr allows the top quarter of a long, narrow piece of ledger paper to remain uncovered. Visible is part of the original writing in pencil on age-browned paper. This writing blends and bleeds into the pliable, plastic-like white paint that covers the rest of the page. On top of this white paint a delicate line drawing in blue gouache skates below the horizon line formed by the dip. This drawing echoes both the writing and the blue lines of the paper.
Recently, Burr has expanded the dipping into completely covering the larger Tactile Drawings in enamel paint. These drawings move away from using the delicate found paper, and have a durability that could stand up to being handled by the viewer and thus experienced in a different way. Place over small flour filled bags, Drape Drawing 1 takes on a topographical appearance that is one more variation of the landscape. Small raised dots of green paint on the surface call to mind alternately trees, Braille, stars in a constellation, and the player roll on a music box. Like grace notes, Burr's mark making arises lyrically out of her investiagtions, experiments, and process.
How to distill inspiration, to extract the essence of an idea, is the basis of this exhibition. It takes form in an examination of materials and process. Doug Bosch is showing work that is the result of a multi-year investigation into the use of pollen as a scultpural material. Hannah Burr's drawings and paintings have evolved though asking 'what if?' and systematically finding the answer.
Both Bosch and Burr liken themselves to scientists - each of them makes work that is rooted in experimentation. The experiments render inventive and fresh work that belies the steadfastness and methodical nature of the artists' working methods. They both use the landscape as a departure point and like points on a graph, they alight along the same lines: interest in texture, surface quality, tactility, use of color.
As a curator, my job begins with looking. Illuminating the conceptual and formal connections between two seemingly distinct bodies of work is a rewarding challenge. An exhibition invites viewers to make their own connections. It is also an opportunity for a curator and artists to collaborate. Working with Doug Bosch and Hannah Burr has been a truly enjoyable experience. They are each creating exciting art, and I wish to thank them for sharing their work and time with me.
Montserrat Gallery, Montserrat College of Art
'Distillation: New Work by Doug Bosch and Hannah Burr,'
Mary Bucci McCoy, Art New England, V.24, Iss.1, 12 03
Illuminating the processes of two artists who approach their work as experimentation, Distillation is particularly appropriate for an art school's gallery. If some of the work resulting from their investigations feels more like a beginning than an ending, it is an asset in the context of this exhibition.
Hannah Burr's Draw Through It consists of plump bundles of three year's worth of warm up drawings executed on an eclectic collection of grounds such as junk mail and old, yellowed notebook paper, some dipped in paint. While this bundled presentation may seem somewhat arbitrary, it establishes the importnance of these drawings as a beginning. Their spatial-plane images are resolved into Burr's series of small, luscious oil paintings and larger drawings. A dipped paint ground is the basis for the transcendant Drape Drawing, in which raised stacato dots of paint give the feeling of a dimensional topographical map.
Material is the starting point for Doug Bosch, in this case pitch pine pollen collected in New Hampshire. Combining it with materials such as silicon, cellulose and glue, he manipulates and investigates by dipping, pressing and compressing - his methods echo natural processes he's observed. Some of the resulting pieces such as Drop Studies, feel as if they are a documentary record of experimentation rather than resolved work. All of the scultpures are filled with references - ceramic objects, museum displays of artifacts, petri dish cultures, to name a few - that suggest even the most resolved work can be a starting point for further exploration.
-Mary Bucci McCoy
Art New England
'Artists Get the Blues: the Hues of Spring,' Mary Sherman,
The Boston Herald. 05 23 99
It would be hard to think of a more perfectly matched show than Hannah Burr and Laura DiMeo's at Barbara Singer Fine Arts. It would also be hard to think of a more ideal harbinger of spring. Both artists' imagery is delicate. In fact, with her frequent use of glass, DiMeo's is literally so. And both artists' palettes frequently linger within the realm of refreshing blues.
Although essentially nonrepresentational, their paintings are highly atmospheric. Burr's use of icy,pale ultramarine with lines of ochre that zigzag across her canvases, periodically alighting on daubs of green and orange, and DiMeo's fields of frosted whites and diffused golds bring to mind the time of year when the color just begins to reappear, but is not yet at its most intense. The temprature is still cool and the air calm. It is a time when it is easy to become lost in delicious meditation; the same can be said of Burr's and DiMeo's work.
DiMeo's most self-consicously deals with reflection. Often using a ground of mirrors that are scratched or in other ways muted, she then proceeds to layer this relfective surface with images, patterns, scratchings and, in a work like "Silence Float," mesmerizing glass bubbles that protrude from the work's surface. Frequentyl, DiMeo also plays up the relfective quality of her work by creating diptychs in which one panel is mirrored, the other opaquely painted. The contrasts brilliantly play off and complement one another in a way that also draws attention to their inherent strengths.
Dimeo's prevailing use of sky blues - ranging from midnight to the robin's egg - and global shapes clearly reference the heavens; while the small cameo figures that appear on some of the pieces alos set up a dialogue of longing between the viewer's interior and exterior world. in DiMeo's hands, presenting the marvels of the sky as if they were everyday objects and treating such commonplace materials as glass and paint as equivalents of the vast wonders of the universe results in rare, inventive beauty.
Burr's works are equally seductive. Her fields of blue often are draped by spare yellowish strokes that meander across the plane like pencil lines touching down at points to create a highly schematized land- or seascape. Her gentle muted palette and intermittent use of jewel tones also lends the work a sensuous languor, as lyrical as it is inviting.
Thaddeus Beal's work, on view at Andrea Marquit Fine Arts continues in the same vein as Burr and DiMeo's. His works are abstract, layered and muted in color; but there the comparison stops. Whereas Burr's and DiMeo's imagery is atmospheric and light, Beal's appraoch tends to be empathetic and bold. Aside from a few pieces, most of his works are large. And even when the works tend to be small, they still exude strength and confidence, aided by his frequent use of large, consipicuously elegant frames. One of his largest pieces, for instance, stretches on for feet and stands inches off the wall, looking like terra-cotta tile carved with a patterm of cellular shapes.
The Boston Herald
'Powell Finds Magic in the Light and Shadows,' Cate McQuaid, The Boston Globe. 05 02 99
Barbara Singer Fine Arts has made an apt pairing of mixed-media painters Hannah Burr and Laura Dimeo. They both work on a fairly small scale, spinning airy, intricate cosmographies in layers of paint and other materials.
To call Burr's painting aerial views of landscapes is to simplify her work. Each untitled piece, though small, spreads out before us in pale, breathy colors, with snarls of lines untangling into imitations of civilization, like patchworks of farm land or lumpy, stringed jewels of cities. Hair-thin lines ricochet about under foggy layers of paint. These are like treasure maps - the kind that lead you down rabbit trails and into mazes, just to land you back at your own hearth, where the gold was all along.
DiMeo layers paint and wax over mirrors. She makes diptychs, with one reflective panel and one opaque one. Often, they rise off the wall and slope down or in, engaging each other and the viewer in a trio of connection and relfection. Perfect oval bubbles float over the mirrors, moments of clarity among the lulling haze of wax.
In "Elementary Images XXV," the two halves incline toward each other. On the right, a smoky yellow mirror sports clear ovals and ivory, cameo-style silouhette cutouts. The right side speckles with starry spots of blue over waxy white, the negative image of a galaxy, with more ovals delicately spinning around each other like rings of Saturn. In their paintings, Burr and DiMeo look at once onward and outward.
The Boston Globe