Controlled Chaos: Lauren Peterson & Krista Clark at Kibbee

Lauren Peterson, Within Doors
Lauren Peterson, Within Doors
Lauren Peterson, Within Doors, 2017; sofa cushions, bubble wrap, wooden stool, artificial potted flowers, Crock-Pot, lampshade, bungee cords, acrylic, mixed media, 62 by 42 by 27 inches.

Kibbee Gallery, which consists of two rooms and an alcove, is a fairly typical exhibition space. However, Manufactured (Boundaries) renders the area nearly unrecognizable. In their joint installation, artists Krista Clark and Lauren Peterson blur the lines between sculpture and drawing and to create an abstract world that bends space and perspective into absolutely whatever they want.

Installation view of Manufactured Boundaries
Left, Lauren Peterson, Personal Landscape Maintenance, 2017; acrylic on rug remnants and foam, wallpaper, single-channel video, bubble wrap, bed sheet, artificial flowers. Right, Krista Clark, Above Ground, 2017; paper, insulation, tarp, tape, fencing, pastel, 32 by 21 inches.

Peterson’s works assert themselves loudly through dizzying combinations of bright green, pinks, and blues, and a stunning array of materials including (but certainly not limited to) cushions, toilet parts, artificial flowers, rug remnants, foam, bubble wrap, bungee cords and lampshades. Peterson collects found objects and repurposes them into new and wild forms. From certain angles, her sculptures appear to be chaotic piles of things, as if found in the basement of an estate sale. But then, like the basement of an estate sale, they demand a closer look. Soon, they blossom into organized forms, full of crackling energy. For example, the large sculpture Within Doors, which is plopped down at the gallery’s entrance, looks like bulky piles of bubble wrap framed by a chewed-up sofa cushion. This, of course, is fabulous in its own way, but walk around it and the other side reveals an explosion of textures and colors: a bouquet of green and red carpet, plastic flowers, teal and yellow string, and globs of thick, vibrant acrylic paint.

 Within Doors, Sofa cushions, bubble wrap, wooden stool, artificial potted flowers, crockpot, lampshade, bungee cords, acrylic, mixed media, 62 x 42 x 27 inches, 2017 and It’s Curtains For You, Sofa cushion cover, shower curtain, foam, clothing, thread, acrylic, mixed media, 80 x 64 inches, 2017
Lauren Peterson, In the Closet, In the Cabinet, On the Floor, 2017; rug remnants, plastic shopping bag, clothing, thread, 50 by 38 inches.

For sculptures made of fairly unassuming objects, they seem curiously alive. It’s as if Peterson planted the first tiny bundle of florescent packaging, and it grew from there. In Synthetic Synthesis, a clamp with plastic tubing sticks out of a mass of fabric and string like an inquisitive nose. The bright blue cord trailing behind it only adds to the sense that Synthetic Synthesis simply wandered in off the street, perhaps in search of some leftovers.

In another room, Peterson’s Personal Landscape Maintenance is a commentary on the absurd. There’s a wall covered in 1960s-esque psychedelic flower wallpapers, coupled with large, goofy flower cutouts from rug remnants. In the center of this woozy mayhem plays a projected video of a green lawn being cut with a manual reel mower. Lawns, and the cultural values demonstrated in their upkeep, are absurd in their futility and superficiality—an idea furthered by Peterson’s over-the-top flower power.

Krista Clark, discovered
Krista Clark, (dis)covered (detail), 2017; wood, tar paper, insulation, paper, tarp, pastel, pen, tape.

In comparison with Peterson’s bold pieces, Krista Clark’s wall installations become a study in intention, precision, and detail. The artists, who both recently received their MFAs from Georgia State University, have clear overlaps in style. Like Peterson, Clark uses a wide variety of materials, such as paper, vinyl, insulation, fencing, tarp, pastel, tape, crayon and more. But while Peterson’s works are the visual embodiment of a manual reel mower running through a, deranged IKEA (in a really good way), Clark’s works are calculated, and every line seems to assert itself with purpose and intentionality. There is no chaos here; instead, the careful overlapping and threading of paper and plastic is calming. Clark’s use of lavender, sea foam, beige, dark blue, and the occasionally breathtaking streak of orange demonstrate a masterful understanding of the relationship between colors, and their effect on space and human emotion.

Krista Clark, (dis)covered, detail
Krista Clark, (dis)covered (detail), 2017; wood, tar paper, insulation, paper, tarp, pastel, pen, tape.

In Clark’s Above Ground, a large installation taking up much of the back wall, the contrast between textures varies from understated to dramatic. A thick blue tarp hangs down to the floor, its heaviness and drapery a nice contrast to the array of delicate crisscrossing lines covering the rest of the wall. Some of the lines on the wall are made with insulation, while others are made with paper so thin it flutters slightly on air currents. The details are fantastic, from the carefully carved out space for a wall socket to a ripped piece of a paper (an envelope, maybe) that shows the tiny printed words “Eyes on the/not on your.” Sometimes, Clark moves her sculpture-drawings off the wall by gently peeling pieces of material away and leaving them hanging, giving the whole installation a slightly aged look — if not aged, then sentient, as if the materials were tearing themselves away.

1_Peterson_Clark_Manufactured Boundaries install
Installation view with works by Lauren Peterson in foreground and Krista Clark on the wall.

The two artists complement each other well. Peterson’s vivid piles of found objects stand to highlight the precision of Clark’s meticulous structures. In turn, Clark’s pastel tones and careful study of line and shapes serves as a catalyst to further amplify Peterson’s joyful chaos. The environment they create is electrifying and delightfully overwhelming. It requires attention,in order to catch all the details and subtleties hidden behind carpet squares or tucked between lines. It takes time, and it’s worth it.

Manufactured (Boundaries) is on view through September 30 at Kibbee Gallery.

E.C. Flamming is an Atlanta-based writer. She has been published in ART PAPERS, Paste, and The Peel Literature & Arts Review.

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