Color gradients and monochromatic shapes dawned the walls of one of Hathaway Gallery’s galleries, much like Ed Ruscha, but without the words.
Upon experience first, it seemed that Kirstin Mitchell’s work in Midnight at the Oasis is Ed Ruscha’s word paintings without the language. The trade-off finds itself in the iterations of texture and focuses on color relationships. A grey tarp is affixed unevenly at two ends of a large dirty lavender to charcoal gradient painted canvas in Limousine. The neat draping of the tarp is stark against the smoothly blended colors. Another piece, Untitled (Yellow Rubber), appears to be two taught pieces of rubber fabric–one yellow, one white–diverge farther away from each other like a slit, revealing more white underneath. Shadows play in between the flaps of rubber. Surprisingly, the yellow extends past the implied canvas shape and drapes ungracefully below, playing with the color of the wall and casting multiple shadows.
The colors, shadows, and material become a more important conversation than anything else. That is, until you peruse Mitchell’s artist statement: a serial list of definitions of key words from the titles of her work and show. Mitchell saved the wordplay for those looking for more than just a gut reaction to her works. Limousine is pulled apart into three definitions, each flourished with historical information.
The artist’s statement suggests as much ambiguity as her work itself entails. The work falls into a reactionary series, open to interpretation, even encouraging self-discovery through her work. Where the ambiguity stood in the words for Ed Ruscha, Mitchell channels ambiguity in texture and color to stimulate consideration.