Friday, September 10, 2010

NERS: "Sparkles, Sprinklers, and Bad Seeds"

NERS recently unveiled his latest body of work at Harrison Center for the Arts in Indianapolis. Sparkles, Sprinklers, and Bad Seeds channels suburban angst and nature lust in the artist's characteristically bright and straightforward fashion. Works on colored paper with clean, simple lines and sculptures combining natural elements with unexpectedly painted areas in brilliant colors fill the Harrison Center's Gallery 2. The space was once a chapel and presents a novel and engaging if challenging environment for exhibiting contemporary art. NERS' new series of "trophies" - painted sticks with pennant flags designed to support themselves when installed in drywall, required some improvisation when it came to installing. The gallery's brick and cinderblock walls necessitated hot glue and invisible thread be utilized to support the trophies.

"Growing up in the suburbs, I pined to be in nature. Sparkles, Sprinklers, and Bad Seeds is a reaction against the suburban ideals and chromophobia while glorifying the inherent beauty in nature, letting the weeds grow, and just plain forgetting to mow." -NERS

So what exactly is the significance or meaning of Sparkles, Sprinklers, and Bad Seeds? Sparkles reference diamonds (certainly an important part of NERS' iconology) and wealth, sprinklers reference summer, and bad seeds refers to misbehaving children. Sustainability is a recurring thread in NERS' work and is manifested in various ways. For the first time, the artist has chosen to employ pedestals in an installation and of course he could not do so in a conventional way. Rather than a standard white rectangle, NERS' pedestals are logs with the upper surface painted white. In one case, a log sculpture is situated atop a log-based pedestal, blurring lines between exhibition components and art. Painting the surface of the logs that holds the art white makes for an interesting syncretism between traditional gallery culture and the sort of nature maverick approach to art that NERS takes.

There are also more of the "diamond paintings" that NERS has been making for a while now in the show, and they are always pleasing due their unexpected combinations of colors. Using paint hue examples cut into diamond shapes and frames that have usually been picked up second-hand, this working method is a good example of NERS' commitment to sustainability in art due to their repurposing of discarded materials. Their status as paintings as opposed to collages is a bit cryptic. "They're done with paint, but I didn't paint it," he explains. The diamond paintings are fitted to the size of the frames they occupy, but often spill out from one edge in unexpected shapes and lengths.

Other works on paper are displayed in a way that creatively responds to the difficulty of hanging art on brick and cinder blocks: an uber-salon style display of clustered framed works sit on the floor in the middle of the exhibition. The label for these works as well as the pedestal pieces are hand-written on fluorescent paper and placed on the floor, an interesting departure from the usual method of typed labels on white backgrounds placed on adjacent walls. The upside is that you can't miss the labels, which is often all-too-easy when wall labels attempt to identify works on pedestals. One piece pictured below even finds NERS adding a piece of fungus with a wooden crystal to the frame of a 2-D piece, an interesting continuation of the content both literally and figuratively.

Sparkles, Sprinklers and Bad Seeds finds NERS at an interesting point. Having weathered a personally challenging but perhaps artistically fulfilling fifteen month period after obtaining his BFA from Herron School of Art and Design, this show is one that would have taken place in the past if not for the personal upheaval that resulted in Magical Wonderfulness. The work still feels fresh in large part, and this show marks the end of logs, pinecone shapes and hand-drawn diamond shapes in the artist's iconology. Who knows what the future will hold for NERS, but indeed it will be a....bright one.

I had a chance to catch up with NERS during the installation of the show. See what he had to say: