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Fictional, yet familiar urban landscapes abound in new Target Gallery show
Leigh Merrill: Cloud Seeding
July 25 – August 30
Media-Only Preview: Friday, July 24, 1 pm
Reception: Thursday, August 13, 6 – 8 pm; Juror talk at 7 pm
The familiar becomes unfamiliar in a new exhibition at Target Gallery, the contemporary exhibition space for the Torpedo Factory Art Center. Leigh Merrill: Cloud Seeding is on view Saturday July 25 through Sunday, August 30, 2015.
Texas-based Merrill takes thousands ofphotographs, videos, and audio recordingswhile exploring a city or neighborhood, thendigitally assembles them to create her imaginary composite spaces. Some of her videos feature only ambient changes in the environment, like the movement of clouds or leaves fluttering in the wind. The result is a beautiful lie—reality that is slightly askew, familiar but emotionally detached.
“Photography and video are traditionally rooted in fact—we use them to document reality,” said Kaitlyn Ward, director of the Target Gallery. “By manipulating that reality, Leigh makes an interesting statement about our contemporary relationship with this media. We’re constantly flooded with imagery that we automatically accept as fact — the realization that this imagery is somehow lying to us is what causes the feeling of unease when viewing her work.”
“The imagery in my videos and photographs play off one another, creating a curious sense of pleasure at seeing the familiar become unfamiliar,” said Merrill.
The scenes in Merrill’s work feels recognizable, but not placeable. She documents sprawl and cookie-cutter off-ramp commercial spaces that tap into conscious and subconscious visual cues that are shared across urban, suburban, and rural spaces. By fixating on and altering these spaces, she examines false reality, construction of desire, and highlights subtle urban beauty.
“Just as our dreams take reality and reimagine them, Leigh’s imaginary spaces have the same quality,” said juror John James Anderson. “They are slightly disjointed and out of touch from reality, but they look like spaces we carelessly pass by and ignore.”
“She champions flat and real space in a way that is only considered in painting, creating a strange compressed world that is unnervingly realistic and funny,” said juror Amy Boone-McCreesh. “Leigh’s work is an appropriate depiction of the state of Western existence, partially experiencing reality while consistently committed to a digital reality.”
Merrill was selected as the 2015 winner of the Target Gallery’s prestigious Open Exhibition competition, which seeks to spotlight the work of one up-and-coming artist each year.
“Open Exhibition is an amazing resource for mid-career artists to take the next step in their careers,” said Ward. “For many of these artists, including Leigh, this may be their first solo exhibition in the area. Artists use the exhibition as a springboard into DC’s creative community. It’s also a great opportunity for our patrons to experience high-caliber contemporary work from other parts of the country.”
Leigh Merrill: Cloud Seeding runs Saturday, July 25 through Sunday, August 30. The public reception will be Second Thursday, August 13, 6 – 8 pm, with a juror’s presentation with Anderson and Boone-McCreesh at 7 pm. The Target Gallery is open daily from 10 – 6 pm and until 9 pm on Thursdays. A catalog will accompany the show.
About Leigh Merrill
Leigh Merrill received her bachelor’s of fine arts from the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque and her master’s of fine arts Mills College in Oakland, Calif. Her work has been a part of exhibitions throughout the United States in venues such as the Phoenix Art Museum in Arizona, the diRosa Art Preserve in California, The Lawndale Art Center in Texas, the Tremaine Gallery in Connecticut, and the Museum of Texas Tech University. She was also part of the 2011 Fotographia Festival Internazionale di Roma at the Galleria Gallerati in Rome. Merrill’s work has been included in online and print publications such as the Design Observer/Places Journal, Dwell.com, BLDGBLOG blog, PaperCity Magazine, and the Houston Chronicle. Her work is part of the permanent collections of the Museum of Texas Tech University, the City of Phoenix, the California Institute of Integral Studies, and various private collections. Merrill currently lives and works in Dallas, where she is an assistant professor of art at A&M University-Commerce.
About John James Anderson
John James Anderson is an interdisciplinary artist who works with vector and raster software, video, painting, and less conventional tools and media. His work has exhibited throughout the United States, and has been awarded several grants from the DC Commission on the Arts and Humanities. Anderson began to teach art in the greater Washington, DC, area after receiving his master’s of fine arts in painting from American University in 2005. He’s taught at American University, George Washington University, George Mason University, and The Corcoran College of Art and Design. He is currently an associate professor of art at Prince George’s Community College in Largo, Md.
About Amy Boone-McCreesh
Amy Boone-Mcreesh is a Baltimore-based visual artist. She earned her bachelor’s of fine arts from the Pennsylvania College of Art and Design in 2007 and her master’s of fine arts in studio art from Towson University in 2010. Her work has been exhibited in galleries throughout the United States and she has been awarded grants and fellowships such as the Hamiltonian Fellowship at Hamiltonian Gallery in Washington, DC. Boone-McCreesh currently teaches as an adjunct professor at both the Maryland Institute College of Art and Howard Community College.
About Target Gallery
Target Gallery is the contemporary exhibition space for the Torpedo Factory Art Center. The gallery promotes high standards of art by continuously exploring new ideas through a variety of visual media in a rotating schedule of national and international exhibitions. The gallery is open daily from 10 – 6 pm and until 9 pm on Thursdays.
About the Torpedo Factory Art Center
Founded in 1974 in an old munitions plant, the Torpedo Factory Art Center is home to the largest number of publicly accessible working artist studios in the U.S. The organization’s mission is to foster connections between artists and the public that ignite the creative spirit. Just south of Washington, D.C., the Torpedo Factory Art Center overlooks the Potomac River in the Old Town section of Alexandria, Va. Each year, more than a half million national and international visitors meet and interact with more than 160 resident artists in 82 working studios and six galleries. The Torpedo Factory Art Center is also home to The Art League School and the Alexandria Archaeology Museum. For more information visit torpedofactory.org or follow the Torpedo Factory Art Center on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram via @torpedofactory.