It’s always refreshing to see artists work “outside the box”, especially when they meet or exceed expectations. But when they recreate the box as well, the experience can be transformational.
Happily, this is what occasionally happens at Project Project in many of its best exhibitions, and the gallery’s current offering, Zebra with a Sunburn, the highly creative installation by artist Nick Miller, continues that tradition.
Exhibitions that transform the venue or space as well as its experience have long been the métier of Project Project co-founders Joel Damon and Josh Powell. Artists themselves, Damon, the former director of the sorely missed Bemis Underground and Powell, his cohort in several past popular DIY and site specific group exhibits, truly offered something to look forward to, happenings often greater than the sum of their parts.
This was particularly true of the Underground, as Damon, following in the foot steps of first director Jeremy Stern, organized exhibits that were not only the inauguration of many emerging artists but magically modified the asymmetrical venue as well. Virtually every opening at the Underground was a uniquely holistic immersion.
So too with Project Project’s Zebra With A Sunburn, “an immersive experience that breaks down our perceived boundaries of time and space and opens up our understanding of what is real and imagined,” according to its artist statement.
Miller is a painter, sculptor and educator working and teaching in the Metro who specializes in geometric abstraction. Though somewhat new to Omaha, Miller is leaving his mark in this installation as well as in the community by contributing to local public works and private collections. He has created dozens of murals in Buffalo, San Francisco, Austin, Memphis, Philadelphia as well as Omaha.
Damon and Powell describe his “mark” in this all-encompassing installation as a “wonderfully blurry line of psychedelia and the mathematical” that experiments with orientation and perception. Once “inside” this exhibit, it’s hard to argue with that initial response. At first, one is assaulted by the pattern of black, white and red lines that cover floor and walls; the impact is understandably disorienting.
It’s like being trapped in a maze with no relief in sight. One is caught somewhere between order and chaos. “Mind-bending” seems like an appropriate response here, and one might even conjure up the time travel and trippy 2001: A Space Odyssey. It too ends up in formally constructed room of one’s imagination with more questions than resolution. On the verge…or stuck in the middle.
Though he risks pretension in his artist statement, Miller says “without bringing in the minutiae of our individual and collective existence, Zebra with a Sunburn is a place to sit, reflect, meditate, and recharge. The winding network of disorienting forms realigns our cognitive understanding of self and brings us to an infant-like state free from pre-ordained biases.”
If that is the artist’s intent, then the viewer may leave this beguiling Space Oddity reborn, transformed as it were, not unlike the venue itself, until the next Project Project.
Viewings of Zebra with a Sunburn are by appointment only from November 14 – December 4. All guests are required to wear proper face covering over their mouth and nose, sanitize their hands upon entry and practice social distancing. Attendance will be limited to 12 guests in the space at a time. For more details and gallery hours, go to projectproject.com or its Facebook page.