Amy Myers' Monumental Drawings

 Amy Myers Operetta Inside Atom.
In Partnership with UCR ARTSblock
UCR ARTSblock's mission is to provide a cultural presence, educational resource, community center and intellectual meeting ground for the university and the community.

By Tyler Stallings

Different Particles & Indeterminate States: New Monumental Drawings by Amy Myers features several new works by the artist. Using graphite, Conté crayon, and gouache -- decidedly low-tech tools that reference the "hand" of the artist in the making of the works -- Myers creates luscious, abstract forms that reference simultaneously the movements of subatomic particles, trajectories of cosmic events, mandalas for mediation, and female sexual physiognomy. Overall, her mark marking suggests that a reference to any one, or all, of these events. And the scale of the works, varying in size from seven to twelve feet, is one that envelopes a viewer's peripheral vision, creating a transport system into Myers' own particular world. The exhibition is on view October 10 - November 23, 2013, with an opening reception on Thursday, October 10, 6-9 PM, free admission.

The salient word in this initial description of her work is "event." As she writes in a statement on her own work, in which she ruminates on particle physics as a source of enduring inspiration, particles are in "intermediate states, in a network of interactions, and are based upon events, not things." Here, she contemplates the actual instability of the things in the world that we consider reality. Her use of drawing materials, with an emphasis on line making, provides a kind of wispy representation of this phenomenon that is invisible to the naked eyes of humans. She collapses into one both the "event" of her making the drawing and the "events" that she contemplates in its making.

Amy Myers, Red Giant between Earth and Sun, 2008, graphite, gouache, and conte on paper, 130 x 144 inches. | Courtesy of the artist.

Installation shot of Amy Meyer exhibit "Different Particles & Indeterminate States: New Monumental Drawings" | Photo: Tyler Stallings

The scale of the works is large within the tradition of fine art drawings, but is fitting for Myers aestheticized scientific investigation. She is able to demonstrate how she fits within this cosmos in a manner of speaking. That is, the width and height of the works are about the same distance as when she stretches out her arm and hand to make a mark. One could even imagine a moment in Myers' studio in which she is standing at the center of one her large drawings in progress and has both arms stretched out, Conté crayons in both hands, suggesting the image of da Vinci's 1490 drawing that has been nicknamed, "Vitruvian Man," as it was based on the architectural notes by Roman architect Vitruvius. It is this drawing and the ideas behind it that suggested, "man was the measure of things," meaning that architecture was built according to human proportions. But, as a centuries old and influential image, it is also one that places the male at the center of creation. In Myers work, the labia-like imagery suggests a playful reversal of this notion and in even larger terms: females as the source of reality.

Myers builds her drawing surfaces in a piecemeal fashion. She starts with a 30 x 44 inch sheet of paper, generally. As the drawing takes its own course, she adds more sheets, taping them together from the back. Sometimes one form will emerge for a while but then may be submerged as other forms are overlaid upon it. The drawing nurtures itself literally. Her decision-making is clearly evident as she often erases areas, sometimes to the point of digging through the paper. It is during this process that Myers lets associations germinate, swinging from the organic to the mechanical, from the futuristic to the primal: subatomic particles become galactic forces become sexual organs become vast cyborgian machines become organisms through the lens of a microscope become flashes of geometric forms against the darkness of closed eyes when meditating silently.

Leonardo da Vinci's 1490 drawing that has been nicknamed, "Vitruvian Man," pen and ink with wash over metalpoint on paper.

Predecessors to Myers' process and imagery include da Vinci, Marcel Duchamp, Lee Bontecou, and even H.R. Giger (production designer for the Alien films). Contemporaries include Julie Mehretu and Matthew Ritchie. Whether in the past or in the present, Myers and this list of artists demonstrate a profound interest in using art to figure out the nature of reality. Their concerns have included a curiosity about how birds fly, reactions to the Industrial Revolution and the atrocities of World Wars in the first half of the twentieth century, how sentient beings and machines may merge, and how mapping determines a particular view of the world.

Myers has said that she "reads physics as a springboard into the imagination." Likewise, her drawings are an impetus for refreshing our thoughts about the nature of our physical world.

Different Particles & Indeterminate States: New Monumental Drawings by Amy Myers was organized by UCR ARTSblock and curated by Tyler Stallings, Artistic Director, Culver Center of the Arts & Director, Sweeney Art Gallery, University of California, Riverside. Support has been provided by UCR's College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences (CHASS) and the City of Riverside.

Opening Reception for Amy Myers, October 10, 6-9 PM, free admission, during which the artist will be present. Concurrent with the City of Riverside's newest annual event, The Long Night of Art & Innovation, showcases Riverside's exceptional talent in the arts, the performing arts, science and technology, and the culinary arts & sciences. Between 4 p.m. and midnight, you will have a chance to see more than 130 world-class projects, all in several venues throughout Downtown Riverside, including UCR ARTSblock.

Dig this story? Vote by hitting the Facebook like button above and tweet it out, and it could be turned into a short video documentary. Also, follow Artbound on Facebook and Twitter.

Top Image: Amy Myers, Operetta Inside Atom, 2008, graphite, gouache, and conte on paper, 130 x 150 inches. | Courtesy of the artist

About the Author

Tyler Stallings is the artistic director at Culver Center of the Arts and director of Sweeney Art Gallery at University of California, Riverside.
RSS icon
Previous Post
Next Post

LEAVE A COMMENT Leave Comment  

section header: disciplines
icon, Architecture/ Design discipline

Architecture/ Design

California becomes an international export by redefining the concept of city and home.

icon, Community Arts discipline

Community Arts

Through workshops, education and placed based projects, art is the connective tissue of a community.

icon, Cultural Politics discipline

Cultural Politics

Funding bubbles, cultural deserts and the politics of access to the arts in the 21st century.

icon, Film & Media Arts discipline

Film & Media Arts

At the shadow of the entertainment industry, video artists and underground filmmakers take a stand.

icon, Literature discipline


Noir, sunshine and dystopia create a multi-ethnic narrative that is read, watched and admired around the globe.

icon, Multi-Disciplinary discipline


Multi-hyphenate works that combine disciplines, remix dogmas, and reinvent the wheel.

icon, Music discipline


A dialogue between cultures, the music of our state serves up the California dream like no other artform.

icon, Performance discipline


Staging the drama of California through dance, music and theater.

icon, Visual Arts discipline

Visual Arts

Breaking away from the European and New York vanguard, California reinvents the art world.

Featured • More Columnists
Loading Columnists...