Karin Stack’s ‘The Grass is Green’ at MCLA Gallery 51

"White Path" by Karin Stack

"White Path" by Karin Stack

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – “The Grass is Green,” a solo exhibition by Williamstown, Mass., artist Karin Stack, opens Thursday, June 23, 2011, at MCLA Gallery 51. The exhibition, which investigates the idealized, unnatural, fake landscape, remains on view through Sunday, July 24. An opening reception, free and open to the public, takes place on Thursday, June 23, 6 to 9 p.m.

Karin Stack’s artworks are investigations of landscape using a variety of modes and methods. She has one foot in historic tradition, one in new media, one in lies and deception.

"Blue Sea" by Karin Stack

"Blue Sea" by Karin Stack

In this recent body of work, she has created a suite of images that feature mashups of new and old: perfected photographic landscapes using fake materials, etchings with digital overprinting, an animation she built in 3D-modeling software, and collages and paintings based on that animation.  In a statement about her work, Stack writes, “I find it natural to hybridize and move back and forth using all the techniques and possibilities that coexist, from historic technologies to current printing and digital tools. I’m also a bit phony, so this all suits me quite well.”

Stack’s work has emerged and evolved throughout her career as an artist: from straight printmaking and drawing through photography and digital to a conflation of media overlapping and informing each other.

Karin Stack

Karin Stack

Of her show, Stack commented, “We’ve always been interested in deception, willing suspensions of disbelief. We participate — as viewer, as creator — and we take pleasure in the experience that is or can be art. We strive, at times, for verisimilitude, and we enjoy artifice and trompe l’oeil. These are part of our aesthetics. These are all games that we choose to partake in. In my work, then, I’m merely playing with and hopefully jostling some of the lies we’re accustomed to seeing.”

Stack finds aesthetic curiosity in parking lot shrubberies, overly manicured topiary gardens, golf courses, and Astroturf. She uses both sites and locations she visits, as well as sets and models she builds, bringing into play both tactile materials and digital model-making. Some images evoke the romantic and the sublime using blatantly artificial materials (felt, twigs, Play-Doh). Others play with those materials and explore flatness versus illusionistic space. No matter what, though, Stack is a faker. “Everywhere you look, landscape is controlled and falsified,” she says, “it’s all fake. I’m just building it more fakely.”

"Pool Astroturf" by Karin Stack

"Pool Astroturf" by Karin Stack

“The Grass is Green” opens in conjunction with the fourth-annual DownStreet Art, a city-wide celebration of the arts, which kicks off on Thursday, June 24, 6-9 p.m. with a massive block party. There will be gallery exhibition openings, street musicians and specials at local businesses. The event is free and open to the public.

The initiative was designed to revitalize downtown North Adams by identifying the city as a cultural haven. The program serves not only to increase MCLA’s visibility, but also to showcase what other local arts organizations have to offer.

MCLA Gallery 51 is at 51 Main St. in North Adams and is open daily from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.  For more information, call 413.664.8718.

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