Organized by participating artist David Mazure, through the Curatorial opportunity Program (CoP), “M(i)(A)acro: A Contemporary Drawing Exhibition” is grounded by the fundamental instructional philosophy that an art exhibition has the responsibility to teach facts as well as inspire esoteric ideals. Reworking real and imagined views of biology, astronomy and physics, the work of the six exhibiting artists — Barbara Blacharczyk, Basil El halwagy, greg Fuqua, David Mazure, Doug Russell and Sara Schneckloth — shows us how the medium of drawing is employed as a source of investigation and study of matter, consciousness and energy expressed by micro and macro mark making.
As a thematically dualist installation, the exhibition explores the dynamic nature of basic drawing technique and its application in scientific discourse. It compares the analytical to the intuitive method and investigates how the two areas interconnect. The areas of exploration, as Goethe wrote, are universal, as “there is no patriotic art and no patriotic science;” the exhibition asks if “making marks on paper help unravel the conundrums of observed reality” and, “can attempt to uncover the essence of the invisible mysteries that the universe often allows us to ponder.”
To meet its mission, the New Art Center, with the assistance of Susan Heilman, PhD, from the Museum of Science, Boston, pulled together a 14- page gallery guide; a well organized explanatory tool divided into simple concept chapters and artists’ profiles, it assists visitors in a deeper dialogue and understanding of the visual and intellectual complexity of the mostly abstract works on display.
The success and beauty of “M(i) (A)cro” is not necessarily in the individual works themselves, as many lack a strong visual presence, nor in its goal of revealing something new about scientific thinking, but in its ability to set comparisons about drawing’s technical capacity as a mode of expression. At its most basic, the exhibition is a common show about the contemporary process and media of drawing. It continues the practice of valuing the skill of traditional line production, and the creation of exploratory preparatory drawings, as the essential part of all art making and its fundamental structure.
Exhibited alongside each other, for example, is Basil El Halwagy, whose ink lines float on the surface of Mylar versus the sensual drawing by David Mazure in graphite. In this juxtaposition, both artists are communicating how organic forms can be visually presented. Both works show a quality duality: soft and hard.
El Halwagy approaches his surreal drawings of interior structures of animals from an intuitive position, borrowing the technique of automatic drawing. This allows him a great freedom to test and explore morphology and transformation, evoking the concepts of evolution and the transmutation of species. Although the work appears cold because of the properties of ink on Mylar, in concept, it reveals a warm and welcoming earthbound energy.
Mazure, on the other side, takes a more analytical path; he mixes direct observation with technology, creating works that show, again, the duality of organized structure: hard versus soft. His process involves cutting parts into components of study. It’s a stoic and calculated method, yet it is voiced visually via the gentle manner of graphite on paper.