Curator’s Selection: Matthew Mullins | Inner Orbit

For the second entry in our new Curator’s Selection video series (check out the first one here), form & concept gallery director Frank Rose discussed an artwork by Matthew Mullins from the group exhibition Inner Orbit. Matt’s mixed-media painting The Sun Is In Our Bones is an anchor of the show, which explores personal and cultural visions of outer space, and it’s also an introduction to his next body of work. In late September, he’ll debut a solo exhibition called The Sun In Our Bones that will span our ground floor. Learn more about the painting in the video above, then click over to the exhibition page to discover how it connects with the themes of the forthcoming show.

Matthew Mullins- The Sun Is In Our Bones- Mixed-Media Painting- Form and Concept Gallery- Santa Fe New Mexico

Here is Matt’s meditation on his painting The Sun Is In Our Bones:

The Sun Is In Our Bones is a meditation on the cosmic origins of the elements that comprise our bodies. The elements in our bodies such as carbon, calcium and iron were forged by the extreme forces that exist inside stars, supernovae and other cosmic events. It’s fascinating to think about the journey our bodies’ atomic ingredients have had, and that all of those individual atoms are now working together to form you and me. These elements that have existed for eons are engaged in a mysterious dance that allows us to maintain our complicated biological processes and even consciousness, empathy and love.

The black paint in this piece is made from burnt cow bones. The atoms of calcium and phosphorus from those bones, just like in our bones, were created in the stars. So, the material used in this painting was actually created in space and once provided life to other beings. The title The Sun In Our Bones is not only poetic, it can be taken somewhat literally. The bare linen that the stars seem to be growing into represents yet-to-be-created space. The handprints on the sides are traced from my hands and my wife’s hands, and represent the evolution of human consciousness from the elemental, raw ingredients created inside the stars.

Crystalline and Constellate are meditations on the subatomic world within our bodies. These paintings are nearly photo-realistic depictions of a matrix of atoms being lit up with a laser beam. The source photos that I painted from were taken with an electron microscope. I am awestruck by the intelligent orderliness, but also the mysterious fluidity, of the world experienced at this scale. Our own bodies look similar when viewed from a small enough vantage point.

Click here to browse the complete Inner Orbit exhibition on our website. The show appears in conjunction with Santa Fe Futurition, the Currents New Media Festival, and the Santa Fe Institute’s Interplanetary Festival.

Curator’s Selection: Eric William Carroll | Inner Orbit

Our director Frank Rose spent months on a national search for artists who explore personal or cultural visions of outer space in their work. The resulting exhibition, Inner Orbit, presents the cosmos not as a dark void, but as a densely layered cultural landscape. We asked Frank to discuss two of the artists who appear in the show for a new video series called Curator’s Selection. First up is St. Paul-based artist Eric William Carroll, who contributed several works from his Standard Stars series to Inner Orbit. Watch the video above for Frank’s take, and read Eric’s thoughts on the body of work below.

From Eric:

My project Standard Stars draws from three years of research at the Pisgah Astronomical Research Institute (PARI), located an hour outside of Asheville, North Carolina in the small town of Rosman, and surrounded by the Pisgah National Forest.

One of PARI’s missions is to collect and digitize the largest archive of astronomical glass-plate photographs, known as the Astronomical Photographic Data Archive, commonly referred to as APDA. Currently, APDA is a collection of over 200,000 public-domain glass plate negatives that have been acquired from institutions and individuals all over the world. The visual wealth of APDA is unparalleled, as it documents the history of photographing the sky from the late 1800’s until the end of the 20th century on a now obsolete medium. There is an undeniable physical beauty to these photographic objects, which explains why I have made many trips over the years to immerse myself in the collection.

With just over 1% of the archive scanned, most of the photographic plates sit in boxes and on shelves, slowly deteriorating. The emulsion peels off of the glass plate in a variety of patterns, as if nature is trying to creep back into these scientific studies. In these images I have carefully composed the flakes of emulsion and photographed them on a light table and then inverted the image. In some cases, such as NA8302, the astronomer accidentally spilled oil on the plate. In NA8075, the exposed plate wasn’t processed in enough developer solution. These errors bridge the gap between galaxy and astronomer.

All in all, I have made high-resolution scans and photographs of over 500 plates from APDA. Visually and metaphorically, APDA represents the human attempt to study, represent, and organize the Universe. The fact that this collection is in danger of disintegrating and being forgotten is sadly and beautifully poetic.

Click here to browse the complete Inner Orbit exhibition on our website. The show appears in conjunction with Santa Fe Futurition, the Currents New Media Festival, and the Santa Fe Institute’s Interplanetary Festival.

Artist Talk: Inner Orbit

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Join Inner Orbit artists Matthew Mullins and Drew Lenihan for this interactive tour. They’ll engage with Frank Rose and Jordan Eddy of form & concept in a conversation about the show’s themes.

Inner Orbit spotlights contemporary artists from across the United States who meld fine art and craft mediums with technology for deeply personal looks at the firmament. The show appears in conjunction with Santa Fe Futurition, the Currents New Media Festival, and the Santa Fe Institute’s Interplanetary Festival. Inner Orbit opens on Friday, May 25, 5-7 pm.

Learn more about this exhibition.

Image: Marcus Zúñigalines (detail), 2017, mural, led string lights, marker, dimensions vary.

Opening: Inner Orbit

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form & concept presents Inner Orbit, an exhibition of contemporary artists from across the United States with deeply personal or cultural visions of outer space. The show appears in conjunction with Santa Fe Futurition, the Currents New Media Festival, and the Santa Fe Institute’s Interplanetary Festival. Inner Orbit opens on Friday, May 25, 5-7 pm, and a number of the participating artists will appear at a gallery talk on Saturday, June 9, 2-3 pm.

From a human perspective, the night sky is a densely layered cultural landscape. Long before they were subjects of scientific study, stars were laden with countless overlapping mythologies. Fortune tellers, sailors, writers, architects and artists have all projected profound meaning into the cosmos—tying earthly events to the movements of heavenly bodies. Inner Orbit spotlights contemporary artists who meld fine art and craft mediums with technology for a fresh look at the firmament.

Artists

Katie Dorame, Nina Elder, Stephan Hillerbrand, Case Jernigan, Drew Lenihan, Mary Magsamen, Matthew Mullins, Eric William Carroll, Andrew Yang, Marcus Zúñiga

Learn more about this exhibition.

Image: Case Jernigan, Aliens and Boats at Muni (detail), paper, canvas, thread, LED lights, 21×25 inches, 2017