‘Jacqueline May: 'Watershed'’

Topography, organic forms, and the role of water become metaphors in new works by Austin artist Jacqueline May

Arts Review
Arts Review

Jacqueline May: "Watershed"

Iron Gate Studios, May 20-June 5

Topography, organic forms, and the role of water become metaphors in new works by Austin artist and Chronicle contributor Jacqueline May. Water transports natural elements, commodities, and people from one place to another and, as May points out, by drinking tap water the watershed of our environs is running through our bodies. Earlier this year May visited Chinatown in San Francisco where she saw stalls selling exotic items used by the local population. One stall consisted of a roomful of fish tanks, housing schools of 2-foot-long fish. Despite the crowded conditions, individual fish maintained perfectly staggered positions, rising and falling in gorgeous groups as their dark fins and tails and light bodies created hypnotic patterns. May was attracted visually to their dance yet simultaneously repelled by the experience, knowing that these sentient beings were being viewed as dinner by the people around her. The works she has created for her next exhibition explore various sides of this moment in Chinatown. Beginning with a maple panel, Into Strange Waters emerges in layers, first as rudimentary oil applied to the gessoed panel, followed by a layering of maps of China and Texas and an application of encaustic (beeswax tempered with resin for durability). She has taken advantage of the natural geographic features of the maps to highlight fins, eyes, gill/body sides, and other anatomical parts of the fish. The final application of aluminum leaf, with its reflective quality and use as a material in the sacred arts of every culture, highlights the fact that with globalization, the things that make us are no longer from our immediate environs.

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Jacqueline May, Watershed, Iron Gate Studios

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