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Field Collision: Dave Culpepper, Rebecca Marino, and Andrew McCloskey

Exhibition of photography and mixed media carries emergent Austin art to new heights

Reviewed by Caitlin Greenwood, Fri., Oct. 4, 2013

<i>Jello Fragment</i>, by Rebecca Marino
Jello Fragment, by Rebecca Marino

'Field Collision: Dave Culpepper, Rebecca Marino, and Andrew McCloskey'

Pump Project Flex Space, 1109 Shady
www.facebook.com/flexspaceatx
Through Oct. 5

When confronted with questions regarding humanity, Carl Sagan, the great astrophysicist and astronomer, noted how easy the destruction of mankind would be. But he finished his thought with "... we are also capable of using our compassion and our intelligence, our technology and our wealth, to make an abundant and meaningful life for every inhabitant of this planet. To enhance enormously our understanding of the universe, and to carry us to the stars." "Field Collision," showcasing recent works from Andrew McCloskey, Rebecca Marino, and Dave Culpepper, indeed asks its audience to accompany the exhibition to the stars.

Flex Space's latest is split between photography from Marino and McCloskey, and mixed media installations from Culpepper, with all pieces defining space for the individual artists. McCloskey leans on images of expansive natural landscapes – remote scenes with a soft aesthetic hand. It's material that he has touched on before, but here it feels newly refined, as though the artist has become more conscious of his subject and is allowing his images a new breadth and energy.

Marino often creates meticulously staged shots that hearken back to a personal thesis in her work, and so it is with her images in "Field Collision," which feature fantastical depictions of early Sixties space exploration. John Glenn's Applesauce depicts a plastic dome, emulating a spacesuit's helmet, slightly ajar over a plate of applesauce, which was the first food eaten in orbit. Her images portray a reverence for NASA and the early astronauts that laid the foundation for space exploration, while bringing a contemporary perspective to that particular era.

Culpepper heads in a quite literal direction, decorating the gallery space with large moon rocks and organic sculptures that really shine. With a large rock installation covered in Mars soil simulant, seat-belted to a wall, it is clear that Culpepper – who more frequently shows as part of the Ink Tank collective – can carry his work both visually and conceptually.

"Field Collision" may seem too playful to capture a discerning audience, but know that the material articulated by each artist is, without hyperbole, extraordinary. It is rare to find a show in which artists provide such distinction while ascribing to a central theme. From Marino's re-creations of the fledgling space program to Culpepper's sculptures to McCloskey's portraits of remoteness, the exhibition succeeds in tackling the ambitious notion of space with skill and creativity alike.

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