Bryan Northup and Fran Sampson
Traces of Us
May 12, 2023 to July 1, 2023
Artists Fran Sampson and Bryan Northup examine the traces of human influence and encroachment on the world around us. With widely differing mediums and techniques, unified by a shared aesthetic of vibrant color and nuanced abstraction, they comment on the residues, imprints, and marks left on the world by human action. We have evolved from stardust to beings capable of abstract thought. Remarkably we can ponder our very existence, create art and develop science, and engineer incredible solutions; yet we simultaneously destroy the earth we depend on for our very lives. Traces of us can be seen from art museums to the garbage that has drifted into the deepest sea trenches, visible from outer space. What marks will ultimately be left to signify our existence?
Human imposition can be seen on every landscape, whether fabricated or merely observed in a relatively natural state. Sampson’s paintings capture that signature human mark by employing abstracted shapes, symbols, and even at times, bar codes, as stand-ins for humans. The bold colors, layered background, and shifting vantage points create a sense of movement across and into the spatial field, inviting the viewer to experience her painting as an event characterized by the unique complexities resulting from the human gaze.
Plastics will be an undeniable marker in the fossil record of humankind. Our species is dependent on the convenience plastic promises, and like it or not, this material is our most lasting legacy. Northup transforms this toxic material, rolling and slicing it into dimensional marks for making art that depicts abstracted glimpses of microscopic cell interactions or molecular-level contamination, a cross-section of interconnectedness, in an attempt to imagine how this man-made material is interacting with living systems at the deepest level.