Gallery Wendi Norris currently hosts two impressive shows well worth the journey to its off-the-beaten-path Jessie street location in San Francisco. Passages by Val Britton makes an immediate impact on the viewer due to the large installation visible the moment one walks in the door. The installation is a three-dimensional representation of her captivating 2D mixed media works and consists of cut paper hung from the ceiling in such a way that the viewer can circle it entirely, tracing patterns across its complex body.
This movement is crucial to understanding Britton’s work. Her pieces come from collages she made following the death of her father, a long haul truck driver. In order to help herself process the emotional impact of losing her father, Britton would take maps of the routes he travelled and collage them into complex layered pieces that eventually developed into the pieces gracing the walls of Wendi Norris.
In her current works, Britton uses cut paper, drawings, ink, and watercolor to create abstracted pieces that are at once solid and delicate. She combines different patterns, colors, and shapes to create different maps that explore concepts of memory and imagination.
Adjacent to Britton’s show, Bay Area native Christine Elfman presents her solo show Fix and Fade, a selection of photographs and paintings that explore the dynamic of stability and change. Elfman contrasts contemporary black and white photography with the traditional process of anthotypy, in which the artist creates an image using paper coated with a photosensitive plant extract which is then exposed to sunlight. The image is inherently fleeting—any time the photo is exposed to light it fades a little.
The most striking of these diptychs is one entitled “Pillars of Salt.” The left image is an purple-blue anthotype whose only description is “crone.” The right is a black and white image of a woman ‘s back so sharply focused I can see the goose bumps rise on her back. The crone is fading. The young woman is strong and wholly present. Frozen in photos, this is how they’ll stay. But in real life, the young woman becomes the crone, is replaced by another young woman, and the cycle continues on. Everything is stable—until it changes. And it will always change.
Passages and Fix and Fade will be on view until August 2, 2014.
Gallery Wendi Norris 161 Jessie Street San Francisco, CA 94105 gallerywendinorris.com