Emily Mulin’s, Woman on Top exhibition at John Hanley Gallery immediately draws the eye in with bold patterns, beautiful plants, and unique ceramics. It strays from being perceived as nice wall art at a trendy restaurant in Nolita by its intricate craftsmanship and clever display techniques. The series of wall-mounted reliefs of ceramic vessels and flowers on hand-painted steel shelves come across as three dimensional still lives. By putting real plants in the works, Mulin may be playing with temporal reality in a more observable sense than typical still life. The viewer must contemplate both what happens when these plants wilt.
Currently, there is a boom in digital art with the new capabilities artists have access to, and these works often take to moving much faster than Mulin’s work. A painted still life is a preservation of a moment, whereas the Woman On Top exhibition consists of continuously transforming pieces, too slow to be perceived in the average 10 second glance from passers by. Though the works are three dimensional, they hold a beauty which would translate to a flat page easily, the aesthetics are memorable due to the bright colors and intriguing patterns that help draw the onlooker.
Woman On Top. Is this title alluding to women’s power, or maybe in a sexual context? Both interpretations seem far fetched. The pieces do appear feminine but the title doesn’t fit. The title is bold, and grabs attention like a magazine headline, but the three dimensional still lifes don’t feel as charged.
While the depth of the work is questionable, the visual decisions are staged, simple, and elegant with cohesive color choices. Either way, to view Mulin’s work was simple and beautiful.