Judith Mullen: A Crooked Path

Curated by Karen Azarnia
January 19 – February 15, 2014
Reception: Sunday, January 19, 3 – 6pm, with talk at 4pm

The Riverside Arts Center is pleased to present A Crooked Path, featuring painting, sculpture and installation by Judith Mullen. Over the past few years, Mullen has developed a daily routine walking through the forest near her home. During these excursions, the artist collects a variety of natural and man‐made objects that make their way back to the studio. Twigs, plastic, tree stumps and sawdust are combined with oil paint, canvas, plaster, paper and wax.

While referencing nature and our relationship to it, Mullen is not an environmentalist. Rather, her abstract work embodies an exploration of materials and meditation located through the process of making. Drawing upon influences such as Lee Bontecou and the recent exhibition Destroy the Picture: Painting the Void, 1949 ‐ 1962 at the MCA Chicago, Mullen is focused on “how you break things down and put them back together.” Maintaining openness, her intuitive experiments repurpose discarded, recycled and often deteriorated materials to craft something new.

In constructing the pieces, which hover between painting and sculpture, the artist mines the gap between strength and fragility. According to Mullen, a work should look as if it’s about to “fall apart.” This tenuous balance incites a physical response in the viewer, one that speaks to ideas of transformation and change. Incorporating materials in different physical states, there is an inherent reference to organic life cycles. The acts of construction and reconfiguration speak to the cycle of personal trauma, recovery and resilience.
-Karen Azarnia