Everything in layers

Enter the world of Lakshmi Muirhead in the newest Grand Staircase Gallery exhibit

The deceivingly simple forms and subtle color fields of Seattle-based artist Lakshmi Muirhead’s work come to life through her unique layering technique. By laboriously applying panels and canvases with plaster, adhesives, oil stick, graphite, acrylic, ink, and paper, Muirhead crafts a richly shifting texture. Reminiscent of the volatility of memory and perception, the subtle interplay and sheer scale of Muirhead’s layers impart a feeling of infinity and uncertainty.

With no beginning moment or definitive end to a piece of Muirhead’s work, viewers can drift into a contemplative state while allowing their eyes to wander across deconstructed pyramids of silver leaf, swaths of blue, and lines of beguilingly obscured writing. The result is a dreamlike state punctuated by tension, mood, and self-reflection.

Muirhead points to her evolving experience as a mixed-race woman from the Midwest as the inspiration behind her work. “The intricacies and anomalies that occur with persistent layering are deeply compelling,” she says. “I love how the viewing is affected by the light, one’s mood, and interpretations of the text. I am interested in the tension, in life and in art, between change and permanence, and why we reject or internalize particular beliefs.”

As a recipient of the 2018 Neddy at Cornish artist award, Muirhead received one of the most prestigious artist awards in the Pacific Northwest. Come discover your own interpretations of her work, on display in the Grand Staircase Gallery through January.

As published in the November/December 2019 issue of WAC Magazine.

—Posted November 5, 2019

 

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