Psychological Ballast is an introspective dive into the artist’s internal conversation about the purpose of art making during tempestuous times. Huston’s latest body of work is a continuation of her effort to capture the in-between-ness of the physical world. A decades-long fascination with shadows returns as a foundation, pressed against repeating patterns that define and disintegrate their initial forms from nature.
Huston’s long term study of shadows is once again central to her latest body of work. While this grouping of drawings advances her formal study of objects through their relationship with light, larger questions about the artist’s practice begin to move to the fore. What does the artist contribute beyond beauty and what is the meaning of making art? Huston postulates that creating artwork in troubling times provides a psychological ballast, a way to locate and anchor a positive state-of-mind in a year marked with so many unknowns. Huston states: Making art, particularly this art, is a bit like fiddling as Rome burns. My sphere of influence is small and begins with me and reaches out in small gestures. I paint, and think and write of all the boats in peril. I move objects on a page to figure out my life. This year it turned out that I held the stable center. Beyond the resulting works, artists serve by demonstrating how to hold their meaning and value in a void.
In Psychological Ballast Huston’s “stable center” emerges as a selection of modest natural elements writ large. In An Overall Twinkling Effect, small daisies anchor each frame in a polyptych with slight variations of angle. Composed like the arc of a whale’s breech, the thrust and movement of the cycle of life finds itself in the smallest of living organisms—a flower. Grass and palm leaves are rendered in ink and acrylic that flows across the surface of transparent glossy mylar—a signature medium for Huston. Thick oil paints push through the lace of drawing in patterns of dot, stripe and plaid, drawing a contrast between organic and inorganic forms.
Similar to her plant subjects, images of sailboat, squall and shifting planet are inundated by patterned forces—placeholders for fragile humans in dangerous times. The visual tension leaves the viewer jockeying between field and figure only to find themselves caught in a beautiful yet unresolved whole.
Katina Huston is a Bay Area based artist.
Psychological Ballast: New Works by Katina Huston
Exhibition Dates: Through November 30, 2020
49 Geary Street, Suite 416
San Francisco, CA