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Kelly McLane, American Idle

CRG Gallery
548 West 22nd Street, 212-229-2766
September 15 - October 20, 2007
Reception: Saturday, September 15, 6 - 8 PM
Web Site

McLane lives in the rugged foothills of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, from which she draws inspiration for both the grand scale and minute delicacy of her work: mountains in paint tower majestically over intricately rendered tangles of hair and foliage in lines of graphite. However natural and remote her environment may be, McLane admittedly cannot escape mainstream media culture, which permeates her plot of wilderness via telephone and cable lines, internet search engines, and bizarre CNN news tales, and weaves its way into, and in some cases politically charges, her landscapes. The addition of figures, both human and animal, architectural structures, and technological devices, such as helicopters and windmills present a world in which the myths and symbols of American history are blurred and entangled with those of the rest of the world. Thus we are left with a cultural lexicon comprised of as many multiple personalities as we are inundated with on reality television.

The landscapes depicted in American Idle present warlike scenarios in which figures from our collective past and present compete for political prominence in the picture plane. Sumo wrestlers, representing an ancient Japanese sport/war ritual as well as an increasingly obese American populace, battle helicopters and wild horses alongside the virtually extinct American Buffalo. Pristine fields of oil paint and airbrush on the canvases pay a skeptical homage to the possibility of finding such untouched territories of wilderness on earth. Giant windmills imperil birds as they fly through them, suggesting that our efforts at energy conservation and environmental protection are not without their own negative impacts upon nature.

Unlike McLane’s previous works which depict the post-apocalyptic event, these new works take place in the here and now, a time in which every issue is a contest subject to our participation. What American Idle represents is a tension between concepts and axioms struggling for supremacy. Like McLane’s American buffalo which appears resigned to its own stagnant, dead presence and bears witness to the battles going on in the world around it, so do we as we sit down to ingest the weekly popularity competition of American Idol. In McLane’s words, “Like it or not we are globally plunging hand in hand into the future, one catastrophe at a time.”
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