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Kathryn Maxwell
Mesa Contemporary Arts, Mesa, Arizona
Recommendation by Deborah Ross


Kathryn Maxwell, "Lunar Eclipse," 2017, mixed media on paper, 16 3/4 x 20". Courtesy of Mesa Contemporary Arts

Continuing through March 25, 2018

Arizona artist Kathryn Maxwell’s relief prints incorporating ink, pencil, gouache and watercolor are ornate and absorbing. They appropriate images usually seen under microscopes, on constellation maps and through telescopes, while asking us to find the connections among those images. Carl Sagan noted that “we are made of stardust,” a notion that lies behind Maxwell’s images. Layering and editing multiple images and using minimal color, her works provoke thoughts on metaphysics as well as the symbiosis between the micro- and macro-worlds — between human forms down to their DNA and the vastness of space. “Lunar Eclipse” is especially evocative, with several moons arcing over a map of the moon’s surface that is readily mistaken for cells under a microscope.

Also juxtaposing micro and macro is the “Waterman’s Butterfly” series, in which latticed triangular shapes that look like sections of giant telescopes or space stations fan out from the center of the image like butterfly wings or flower petals. In other works, Maxwell inserts images of molecular chains, orbs, sinusoidal maps and star charts into roughly symmetrical compositions. Her “Stardust” installation consists of two three-foot-high cylinders topped by dozens of petri dishes that contain representations of microorganisms, arranged like glowing star clusters. The show’s overall effect is to foster a sense of connectedness to the universe, while realizing our minute and vulnerable place in it.


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