The History of Weather
Ashley Williams & Sarah Williams
July 26 — August 24, 2013
Friday, July 26th / 7pm-9pm
Gildar Gallery is pleased to invite sisters Ashley and Sarah Williams to the gallery for two concurrent exhibitions under one umbrella titled The History of Weather. While these talented young artists maintain independent practices in Nederland, Colorado and Chicago, Illinois respectively, both return to their shared childhood bemusement with natural disasters as the genesis for their current work. Raised in Roanoke County, Virginia amidst the Blue Ridge Mountains, the Williams sisters recall an isolated yet wonder-filled childhood. Relying on each other's sprawling imaginations for entertainment they developed elaborate games Inspired by images of natural disasters discovered in their parents' formidable collection of National Geographic and Smithsonian books. In these storm pictures the two sisters found not only a catalyst for their youthful fantasies, but also a perpetual source of content for their now mature creative undertakings. As the adage goes, you can't argue with the weather. As a force beyond human control, the weather's shifting course demands acknowledgement of our subservience to its will - a fact that even insurance companies have embraced in labeling destructive atmospheric conditions 'acts of god'. Through both its combined majesty and catastrophic potential, weather inherently has the ability to pull people's attention away from our workaday social concerns to behold the gravity of natural occurrences, such as the passage of time.
Within the works of both Ashley and Sarah Williams' presented in The History of Weather a relationship between temporality and state change coexist while each artist approaches these phenomena by their own means. Melding the organic and man-made Sarah' ever evolving mixed media sculpture constructed on site at the gallery appears at once engineered and alive. The structure presents a distinct organization of stacked materials, while it also appears to be eroding beneath a mysterious primordial substance. Repeatedly built, deconstructed and reconfigured into new forms by the artist through a process of impulse and action, Sarah's creations experience a weathering process not unfamiliar to that which occurs in nature: "My work, because it grows from previous pieces, shares a certain lineage just within the material which travels from one piece to the next. I think about geography and the movement and re-working of landforms through time." Smoothed by the artist's hands, her imposing sculpture finds itself in constant transition. Material as well aids to the transformational qualities of the work, as partially set plaster shifts during the course of the artwork's life. Fusing geological, architectural and biomorphic elements, Williams' structure conjures the intertwined and at times embattled relationship between human effort and the indifference of nature.
In contrast to the freeform immediacy of Sarah's sculptures, Ashley's immaculate oil paintings are the product of deliberate planning and exacting brushwork. Reminiscent of 19th century scientific and zoological illustration the emergent forms in her work while familiar have no corollary in the real world. Purely imagined, an amorphous cloud-like entity has emerged as Ashley's dominant tableau. She describes this shape floating through space as "awkward", at times dangerous and also fragile. Appearing first in her work ten years ago, this precarious cluster has been accumulating ever since. As she says: "This shape has been traveling, evolving and reacting to experience for over a decade, gathering dust and creating well-worn paths on the landscape. It is a very old storm." Despite a painstaking approach to painting, Ashley's works in this exhibit suggest a distinct sense of movement. Throughout the series her fugitive body evolves in many incarnations, billowing onward, pulsing in agitated space and exploding in suspended action. At all times the work, "hovers in the space between solidity and ephemerality, between a 'being' and an 'event'". As climatologists attempt to predict the next planetary phase, and meteorologists make next week's forecast, a regular bombardment persists of the unexpected and at times cataclysmic. And while people continue to ride the emotional highs and lows of societal tumult, without requiring viewers to endure a colossal tempest the Williams sisters invite viewers to consider the impact of atmospheric events as perhaps the truly palpable markers in the onward march of time.