Mar. 5 Art Minute: Alison Elizabeth Taylor, Kitchen

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Alison Elizabeth Taylor (American, born 1973), Kitchen. Wood veneer, oil, acrylic, and shellac, 2014. 92 x 116 in. Purchased with funds given in memory of Larry Thompson by his children and grandchildren, 2014.22. Wolfe Gallery.

At first glance you may assume this work is paint on canvas or board. But look carefully—most of the image is composed of inlayed wood. Alison Taylor has become well-known for reinvigorating the Renaissance craft of marquetry or intarsia wood inlay, which she combines with painting. Describing this synthesis, Taylor explains, “What interests me is a new type of surface created by the contrast of the textural qualities of the wood and the depth afforded by the paint. I found this tension was just what I needed to convey the otherworldly feeling I encountered in real life when I observed how nature adapts and mutates to accommodate encounters with the ever-encroaching urban environment.”

Kitchen is a meditation on the power of adaptation in the aftermath of disaster. The kitchen—once a comforting symbol of hearth and home–is here transformed into a scene of survival: an invasive tree limb, clothes drying on its branches, has crashed through the ceiling. A useless refrigerator is now a habitat, breeding wild birds (for food?). A cooler becomes a temporary solution for keeping perishables, and the oven houses charcoal for cooking.

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