review magazine kansas city, missouri
canvas as art; art as canvas / by kate hackman
“I do believe that there was ever a question of being abstract or representational.
It is really a matter of ending this silence and solitude, of breathing and stretching
one’s arms again.”
— Mark Rothko 1947
Visiting Landscapes/Bookscapes, an exhibition of work by Carolyn Sheedy-Mazzucca is a Rothkoesque experience…like Rothko to produce artworks, which portray otherworldly spaces. These worlds transcend specificity, expanding across time and space. Just as with the room of Rothko paintings, Landscapes / Bookscapes penetrates one’s consciousness over time, living and breathing and nourishing one from the inside…her own vigorous experimentation, she manipulates the papermaking process so as to almost have invented her own medium. One does not immediately know whether they are looking at stone, rusting metal, cement, or paint as she transforms seemingly fragile paper into a powerfully concrete material. Yet, while she seems to relish the physical experience of creating and manipulating the material, for Sheedy-Mazzucca pushing the limits of the medium is primarily a means to construct tools that are her own—to invent a new language, a transient vehicle through which she is able to express her ideas.
The rich, mature tones and subtle gradations of the paper’s color evoke the natural world. Further, many of the pieces are comprised of two rectangular panels, hung one above the other. A thin line of wall space separating them mimics a horizon line. The two panels are often shadows or echoes of one another with prominent shapes and marks repeated equidistant above and below the horizon line. Yet the irregular scratches and bumps and color variations make it apparent that both panels are originals, perhaps alternate perceptions of a single place or experience. On another level, by creating rich, tactile, irregular surfaces through building up layers and layers of “scratches, undulations, caresses” which “embrace, enfold, rub against” one another (artist statement) the pieces parallel cross sections of the earth’s strata which underlie the visible landscape. Sheedy-Mazzucca explained to me that one of the inspirations of this body of work was noticing, while commuting through Harlem, New York nightly the outlines of paste left on subway walls where billboards had been removed. In the greater scheme of things these “marks” etched upon the surface of cityscapes, landscapes, lives, which documented our histories. Further, they are reminders, remainders of time passing — evidences which become increasing elusive as the structures, which they referred to, are lost. As suggested by the titles of her Transient Inscription and Temporal Integer series’, Sheedy-Mazzucca is concerned with calling attention to the never ending process whereby the future becomes the present becomes the past. The surfaces we inscribe as individuals become additional layers in this continuous accumulation-the present moment one strata of millions pressed up against one another as the cycle continues. Rather than making one feel inconsequential, however, Sheedy-Mazzucca begs us to think about those things, which connect us, the “woven patterns of life (artist statement) which transcend time and space. One of the strongest pieces in the exhibitions, Ubiquitous Passage, is also the most hopeful—offering a mysteriously achieved, ambient rectangular shape which seems to penetrate the surface of the paper and lead straight through the wall and beyond
pitch weekly kansas city, missouri
rock-paper-scissors / by deborah dickson campbell
“…Ubiqutous Passage, this multiple piece set best exemplifies her abstract, painterly technique of applying pulp in the laborious process of layer building…in the 'Transient Inscription' series works incorporate a minimalist or color field aesthetic with hovering geometric elements or lines emphasizing the surface."
Many of the peeling, wrinkling, yet nacreous, surfaces do look painted. Some take on the heaviness, texture and coldness of stone, concrete or oxidizing metal. The indentations are pockets formed between the drying paper.
Sheedy-Mazzucca’s work is meant to evoke the language and secret codes of urban decay and marks made over time, whether on windows left unwashed for decades or the glue and paper leftover from old billboards of subway walls. She creates veils in her works that obscure the previous mark-making, bringing the spectator deeper into her rich surfaces.