Aline Mare and Michael Giancristiano: Organic Integration, Two Worlds
By Genie Davis
Aline Mare and Michael Giancristiano have something special to offer viewers in their solo exhibitions at Jill Joy Gallery. Running through December 3rd, the pair have each created very different works, but both depict natural environments in deeply mystical terms.
Mare’s mixed media work joins together images that cross the boundary between photography and painting. The works from the artist’s “Cryst-aline Series” offer an intricate imagining of growth and creation through the natural beauty of crystals.
“My work has evolved. It is about transforming nature rather than observing it. The crystal metaphor really works for me. It’s a mysterious, alchemical process. I don’t know where I’m going or what it is going to look like,” she says, explaining, “I began by growing crystalline growths in sponges.
The works on display from her “Cloud Seeds” series centers around similar growth, but through plant life. “All these works have material in them from one tree, the kapok tree which has huge seed pods. Roots, seeds, pods, it’s all here in these works,” she says.
In both series, Mare’s metaphor of transformation remains, an origin song, the genesis of creation. Mare’s works, as mysterious as the processes to shape them examines the building blocks of nature, the elements that make up existence, and link human beings to plants, to cities, or perhaps to other universes.
While her foreground is detailed and precise, her backgrounds are sweeping and swirling, utilizing digital scanning to shape a version of a photographic process that Mare admires, cliché verde. The backgrounds form a leaping-off point that leads viewers outward from an artistic “big bang.” Birth, death, life: each of Mare’s works touch on one or all of these, contemplative studies that are illusive and magical. Her works are lyrical, haunting, and delicate – yet firmly rooted in the reality of rock and tree.
Giancristiano’s solo works come from his series “Arctic Metamorphosis.” Like Mare, he is also working with natural materials to create a world with a mystical feel. In his “Blood Falls Beneath the Permafrost in Antarctica,” he is working with “the idea of reanimated micro-organisms. Mars and Antarctica have similar characteristics. The idea was like a precognition in my mind, I could see it before I thought about it. It resembles geologic formations on Mars. The ‘blood’ is iron oxide.”
His gouged industrial plywood wall reliefs are worn, beaten, evolving. They are works in evolution, and he is depicting, like Mare, birth, death, and life. From the devastation of global warming to the real yet profoundly magical capability of nature to regenerate, Giancristiano is inspired by the fissures in the earth, melting ice caps, the hidden, the exposed. Unlike Mare, who describes her work as a process of “transforming,” Giancristiano refers to himself as an “observer, unable to stop the cycle of change in the world,” but capable of documenting it, refining it, and finding hope even in disintegration.
Despite the fact that Giancristiano views his work not as transforming but as observational, to the viewer it is constantly changing. Observing his work from a variety of angles reveals new patterns in the wood, in shadows and swirls, as if the pieces themselves are transforming.
The artist incorporates live Neoregelia and Tillandsia air plants attached to industrial fasteners in his art. The fasteners allow the plants to be removed, cared for, and reinstalled without altering the composition of a piece.
Although their art is quite different in approach, Mare and Giancristiano share much in terms of their purpose. Both offer transcendent work that speaks to nature’s regeneration, the cycle of life and death and the eternal incandescent flame that is spirit, simmering deep beneath the surface of the earth or within the heart of creation.
Whereas Mare uses crystals, seeds, and pods to birth a universe, Giancristiano uses living plants and scarred wood to grow his. Two worlds, one animating principle: beneath the seen is the unseen, and it is that glowing hidden mystery that both artists seek to expose in different, riveting mediums.