Thursday, November 29, 2018
Emily Mullin's Woman on Top
After viewing the larger than life topical-like drawings downstairs, Emily Mullin's show "Woman On Top" at Jack Hanley Gallery was refreshing and cleansing to all the senses. Starting with the show's title, Mullin takes the symbols of feminine domesticated life -- ceramics, floral arrangements, and interior decoration -- to a level of sophistication that elevates how these are not just hobbies but also forms of art. With the fresh flowers creating a fragrant atmosphere and whimsical colors awakening the eye at every turn, the show was more than a visual experience. The mounted shelf pieces had ample white space between them and allowed intimate moments that transformed when you looked at them in different angles. Mullin does not limit her art to one object but also integrates the gallery's walls and creates an illusion of flatness to three-dimensional ceramic vessels by extending the painting onto the white walls with continuing patterns. Her art's sensibility separates itself from a household craft. Her work alludes to so many points in history including ancient Egyptian ceramics, Cycladic vessels, the Bay Area during the 70s, and quirky patterning of the 80s. Garniture is the greatest piece that focuses on the relationships of color theory, with bright yellow-orange flowers and a blue brick design. The intensities of the colors vibrate against each other and meld the vessels in and out of the background space. Peinture Au Point breaks out of the frame of the shelf itself and expands its polka dots on the wall, creating a dizzying appearance of dots everywhere. The continuation of the art onto the gallery wall takes away from viewing the piece as mere decoration. Bananas is fun: a leaning small pot and bold squiggles wave from the pots to the borders. The asymmetry of the piece is not offputting and rather reflects the movement of the liveliness of the yellow blossoms. Mullin takes what was historically known as women's hobbies into an art form that requires intelligence and respect from its viewers as works of art. Just as the flowers are bound to wither and be replaced, the idea of what women are limited to changes with liberation.