Local Artist Featured in Dreamland: Recent Paintings by Neil MacDonald
For Release: November 2008
Akron, Ohio — Enter a gallery of paintings that will transport you to a distant world as the Akron Art Museum showcases the work of Stow resident Neil MacDonald December 6, 2008 to February 22, 2009 in the museum’s Judith Bear Isroff Gallery.
Dreamland: Recent Paintings by Neil MacDonald features two recent bodies of work, Roswell and Apophenia. Both are collections of hauntingly beautiful paintings that explore the ways in which stories are often fabricated out of thin air, evolving and spreading within our society. ”His work examines contemporary themes of daily life such as the desire for connectedness, the need to explain the unexplainable and the wish to understand our place in the cosmos,” described Ellen Rudolph, curator of Exhibitions at the Akron Art Museum.
Inspired by the media’s way of shaping messages, MacDonald obtains his source imagery by snapping photographs of the television screen or printing images from the Internet. Translating the source image into paint through a series of scaled grids, MacDonald systematically distorts the details. His process mimics the piecemeal manner in which we gather information from the media. In Roswell and Apophenia MacDonald exploits the separation from reality that the media cultivates.
For MacDonald, Roswell is the perfect modern-day myth in the making. In 1947, the most high-profile UFO story of the twentieth century gave shape to the country’s collective fears and fantasies about alien presence on earth. The Roswell Incident involved the recovery and subsequent seizure by the U.S. Government of what was supposedly UFO material. Conspiracy theorists alleged that the government had collected the UFO wreckage and alien bodies and was storing them at a top secret military facility in Nevada known as Area 51. Among its nicknames, Area 51 has been dubbed “Dreamland.” In MacDonald’s Roswell, different viewpoints of the phenomenon are displayed, ranging from alien festivals to UFO landing pads built by believers.
The Apophenia series is based on the experience of seeing patterns or connections in random or meaningless data. Here, he creates paintings that seem to have recognizable imagery, but actually picture the disintegration of an image on the television screen. It is human nature to scrutinize the painting for something discernable and even to see something that isn’t there. It is this tendency to try to understand the unexplainable that MacDonald explores through his art.
MacDonald earned a BFA from the Cleveland Institute of Art in 1982 and an MFA in Painting from Kent State University in 2001.
Dreamland: Recent Paintings by Neil MacDonald is organized by the Akron Art Museum and made possible by a generous donation from The Goodyear Tire and Rubber Company.
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