Mary Coble: Source
May 15 – July 3, 2010
Mary Coble and Janet Biggs at Conner Contemporary Art
In Source, Coble presents three new videos, mixed media work, and a live endurance performance (to occur in the gallery courtyard during the exhibition opening). In all of these pieces, Coble addresses themes of purification and renewal in actions focused on the element of water. In her videos, the artist explores subjective states of uncertainty and futility. In her performance, she will raise social awareness about water quality and availability in the local and global communities. The exhibition demonstrates the depth and dimension of Coble's art, which ranges from personal introspection to experience shared through public interaction.
Coble's videos: Stand, Fall, and Swim document the artist's endurance-based activities in a secluded lake. Working in an introspective mode, she explores what making work means to her personally, confronting challenges and opening up to discoveries that arise with that making. Her lone pursuits convey apprehension and doubt associated with uncertain journeys. These videos are Coble's most Romantic works to date, as their natural setting, and her struggle against the elements, recall 19th century landscape painting.
Endurance is a consistent methodological factor in Coble's videos as well as her live gallery performance. In each work, she also embraces water as a medium. The natural setting for her videos underscores the importance of the environment to the global water supply. The performance demonstrates that the abundance of water in DC doesn't insure its quality. In the videos, water visibly affects Coble outwardly, as she makes an inward journey. Her performance calls attention to the internal effects of water quality. Whereas the videos reveal the artist's self-examination, the performance takes its departure from her experience as a member of a larger community, and propels her outward into that community. To gather her material, the artist went door-to-door, collecting water samples from residences in all of DC's 8 wards (over 127 neighborhoods). Coble crossed demographic boundaries to emphasize that water quality has differential effects across populations. The artist's actions at the gallery will create a communal source of clean water, a condition which has historically given rise to gathering places.
Coble's work is in the collection of The Brooklyn Museum, Brooklyn, NY and the Hirshhorn Museum and Sculpture Garden, Washington, DC.