Suzie Dittenber: I Want to Read You
Suzie Dittenber has turned the Annex Gallery for the month of February into an exquisite multimedia exhibition. A professor at Taylor University, Dittenber reveals to us the beauty apparent in an everyday object, as well as the beauty in the ideas connecting art forms together. I met Suzie during first friday next to her video installation accompanying her paintings, photos, and ceramic sculptures.
To confront her paintings is to delight in Dittenber’s understanding of color theory and discretion in subject object recognition. Sometimes the adjectives describing the pages are negated, leaving the viewer to focus on prismatic painterly passages; we can see the strokes made by individual brush hairs as they establish color harmonies which are just as posh as the couture spreads which are her motif. I find the final line in her exhibition statement, “They simultaneously identify a ‘distractible’ quality… where the objecthood of the resource becomes the locus of fascination and the heady offerings are set aside in favor of the visual.” Although after meditating on the other works, I find myself with heady inquiries.
In the center hallway the viewer encounters three bodies of work. on the left side a series of small photographs depicting magazines. Their as matter-of-fact presentation makes them familiar versus disinterested. The size of the photos doesn’t allow you to analyze details in-depth, but they reveal formal relationships, the effect of water, and the melodrama of light . Dittenber’s conceptual aptitude comes out in full force as one begins cross relating mediums.
To clarify, when I use the term conceptual I mean it not in relation to the use of a particular material or depiction of subject matter, but awareness and manipulation of processes and perhaps unconventional ideations and themes. Dittenber has taken four media and carefully, conceptually related them through aesthetic communication.
On the opposite wall is the series “The Story Disintegrates: Nine Ossified Stages”, ceramic cast books. At this point the viewer may become aware to what I believe is important to the artist, an intricacy and sensitivity of the artist’s craft in relationship to the touch of the natural world. Strangely seductive, the pages buckle and bend as water and time act as a force on the paper, size, and binding. We see but a residue of their decay.
Only after being entranced by the delicate castings did I notice that the platforms for the fragile pieces sit on are ceramic as well. While the rest of the show is clearly aesthetic, meant to be read visually, empathized with tactilely, the ‘stages’ are understated and bluntly utilitarian. This fact relates to the three ‘Mobile Media Rack’ pieces, hastily and comically miniaturized racks where a book might be displayed in a library.
While no longer on view in the Annex Gallery, viewers can watch the remaining component of ‘I Want to Read You’ on vimeo and become mesmerized, meditating on the meaning of Dittenber’s work.