godwottery (god-WOT-uhr-ee) noun
Meaning: 1. A highly romantic, exaggeratedly elaborate garden, usually
composed of bizarrely incompatible plants and objects. 2. A love or
affection for such gardens. 3. Affected, archaic language.
A joint exhibit by Deborah Mersky and Joellyn Rock, Godwottery: The Garden Reworked offers shifting visions of the garden and our complex relationship with the landscapes we invade, construct, and embellish. The installation at Augsburg’s Gage Gallery flooded the walls with two approaches to color, materials and image-making. Both artists share a love for ornamental pattern, patterns found in nature, and patterns imposed upon nature. Utopian/dystopian views of ecological paradise invoke the ancient story of Eden and other gardens from fairytale and myth.
A color-saturated grid of inkjet prints, Joellyn Rock filled a 34 foot wall of the gallery with remixed imagery, from winter’s dormant gestation to autumn’s harvest. Working digitally, Rock integrated mixed-media sketches and paintings with sources harvested from history, science and folklore. Giant digital files often composite over 50 layers of imagery in a single collage. Images were duplicated, modified, and recombined to generate a mash-up of botany both real and imagined, a garden of hybridity.
Godwottery: The Garden Reworked / Gage Gallery Augsburg College, Minneapolis, Minnesota. September 2012 – November 2012
The exhibit ran from September to November and was part of the gallery tour, bringing busloads of visitors through the space and engaging in gallery talks as part of the fall event. Joellyn Rock also visited campus to give several lecture presentations to students during the run of the show.
On the opposite wall, mixed-media artist Deborah Mersky’s works on paper are earthy and gestural, with small collage objects holding specimens of surprise. Mersky gleans natural materials, closely observing local ecology in the Texas hill country and creating pigments from oak gall gathered on her land there. Both artists incorporated imagery from each other at various points in the process, collaborating long-distance to share drawings and collages. On the center wall of the gallery, a tree of life joins the two artistic approaches. Visitors and students were invited to add their own images to the tree, which flowered over the weeks of the exhibit.