Searching the Imaginary - Marna Shopoff
A few weeks ago a woman I now know as Marna Shopoff pulled up in front of City Gallery in a U-Haul pickup truck. Being the curious soul that I am, I squinted my eyes and tried to catch a glimpse of this roadside scene. As I gave the truck the once-over my eyes caught on what seemed to be protruding canvases filling the truck bed. I grabbed my one of my buds (and #KPMixtape’s very own) Jason Moore and we hurried outside to lend a hand. Marna Shopoff met us on the sidewalk, introduced herself, and immediately put us to work.
Under Shopoff’s direction, Jason and I cautiously carried canvas after canvas through the City Gallery and into Gallery No. 2. When the last painting was leaning safely against the gallery’s wall we took a step back and took in the view. What met our eyes wasn’t like anything I had ever seen before.
Now, as a child of Western thought I have come to realize that I have a knack for three-dimensional angular perception on a two-dimensional plane. I can’t help but see corners and cubes and prisms when I look at particularly fashioned lines and shading on paper. So when I first took a gander at Shopoff’s show, the stimulation was almost intoxicating. Plane upon shaded planes holding beautifully selected pigment filled my vision. It was like I was visually gulping coffee mug after mug, but each with just the right amount of cream and sugar.
Marna’s work presented dozens and dozens of visually dissonant, yet methodically constructed planes intimately fashioned together on each canvas. These planes, in a way, began to challenge the way I saw and understood the world around me. To put it in the words of Harrison Center artist in residence Emily Andrews, “It is incredible how space seems to be deconstructed and analyzed in Shopoff’s work.”
After the work was lovingly hung in Gallery No. 2, I asked Shopoff about her motivations and inspirations for this show. She replied, “Searching the Imaginary is a sort of retrospective exhibition of my recent MFA thesis work. These paintings are a body of work focused around the intimacy I find within shared architectural spaces.”
Eager to hear more, I asked Shopoff about the message of Searching the Imaginary, to which she responded, “I like to think of my work as a vehicle to investigate the perceptual intimacy I find within public space.” She elaborated, “Using abstraction as a way to move through a space, I explore how art can become a space by its interaction with the environment, and by how the space can become the artwork. To me, space is always a place for exploration, both compositionally and personally.”
Marna Shopoff’s show Searching the Imaginary hangs in Gallery No. 2 at the Harrison Center until July 25. Come and challenge your perceptions of space. The world around us may not be so simplistic after all.