I already knew I wanted to feature Brandon Mathis' work before I saw Elsewhere Chapel, a site specific piece done at Elsewhere in Greensboro, NC, which I coincidentally featured only a couple of weeks ago. It's the cherry on top of my blogwriting when I run across connections between places, people, and artworks in the seemingly bottomless well of emerging contemporary art. I wouldn't have it any other way.
Elsewhere Chapel was constructed as a "workspace and haven" within the larger context of the Elsewhere living museum, a not-entirely-converted thrift shop that invites artists to work and collaborate. Chapel was an installation and work in progress during the length of his stay, requiring attention and maintenance as it was interacted with and grew.
The interactive element is also what draws me to the artist's MFA thesis work, Springs of the Great Deep, a constructed world in miniature, in a sense, with mountains, a spring, and a garden. Moving into, around, and up onto this piece exacts different perspectives on not only the work itself, but the space around it. Mathis explains that the piece is loosely based on the biblical story of Noah's ark and that he views Noah's response to necessity in a pre-scientific manner of "cause and effect, observation, and a plan of action. ... Noah built the ark to save the world." Mathis describes the piece as "a structure that is not wholly recognizable but familiar; it is in the world but not of it." It is a world within a world, very similarly to Elsewhere Chapel as a miniature version of a much larger collection and compilation of objets d'art (or objects that have at least been appropriated as art).
On a smaller scale, perhaps my favorite piece is Untitled (Ararat Hammock), another study of scale, and a joy of bright color and material combinations. The body in the hammock suggests an entire island, suspended in the air rather than anchored to the ground. Hammocks, of course, comfortable but notoriously difficult to balance in, suggest just a hint of precariousness to this miniature paradise.
Brandon Mathis earned an MFA from Hunter College in 2014. More information and work can be found at brandon-mathis.com.