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Friday, September 18, 2009

Lee Gainer

Lee Gainer is a DC based artist whose work has been exhibited in galleries from San Francisco to New York City. She tends to examine our culture through social behavior, appearance, and lifestyle, producing strong bodies of work with different media. I think her methods are very successful when it comes to manipulating her images as well as her audience. By subtracting information from certain images, she presents a direct question to the viewers about what they are seeing and why it is important. Her intimate study of familiar spaces in the series “Household” seems to zoom in on the insignificant and the banal, areas that are cluttered, or maybe so stagnant that perhaps we forget they exist. She reminds us of the comfort they bring through these oddly composed, geometric studies. “Unhidden” is a series of ads torn out from various magazines and newspapers. Gainer reevaluates the information presented by these companies to form a message of what they might really be trying to sell. Using pigmented ink, solid colors mask out the persuasion of words and unbeatably low prices to illuminate, and at the same time, destroy the subliminal. With “Group Therapy,” her atmosphere is more controlled as she takes group portraits to block out personal identity. All that remains is the shell of appearance, a literal mask similar to the pigments she had used before. It poses the question of acceptance in reference to groups, and whether our identity is distinguished or dissolved in such condensed circumstances. “The Thought That Counts” is another series that continues to utilize this method of extraction. This time dealing with the subject of gift giving, and how sincerity has come to take on the form of boxes and cases that only enclose the idea of impermanence. It is only fitting that she would choose to mask out the candies and treats that were made to disappear, leaving the evidence of our addiction to materialism. Through omission, Gainer is able to reveal the alternate context that sometimes encompasses more honesty than before.

Viewing her projects as a whole, her style and voice is very apparent, despite the variety of mediums she has chosen to work with. I think this is possible because she is aware of what she wants to say, but presents it to her viewers in a simplified way, through the process of ‘taking away’. I find this helpful because it proves that messages can be transmitted more successfully through alternative communication.

"Household" Lee Gainer

Dusters, "Unhidden", Lee Gainer

no. 18, "Group Therapy", Lee Gainer

Molasses Clove Cookies, "The Thought That Counts", Lee Gainer

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