Expanded Drawing

From Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program

Nick Conbere, Landscape with Ups and Downs, 2008, Mixed media on mylar
Nick Conbere, Landscape with Ups and Downs, 2008, Mixed media on mylar

Artists: Nick Conbere, Michelle Johnson, Jack Pavlik, and Sonja Peterson
Friday, January 23, 2009—Sunday, March 15, 2009
MAEP Galleries

Nicholas Conbere, Michelle Johnson, Jack Pavlik and Sonja Peterson extend their use of line and the concept of drawing. Conbere's invented landscapes of layered drawings and photos create complex, dreamlike panoramas. Johnson's repetitive, overlapping patterns of calligraphic letters distort the original mark and create a new aesthetic identity. Pavik's kinetic sculptures create visual and aural narratives of form and movement. Peterson's cut-out drawings of farmland and wildlife play with ideas of perception and reality.


Your Comments Here

The website is not conducive to exploring the exhibit. Some of the links are banned on this computer and the pieces discussed on the site are not ones displayed here. I would prefer to have a more in depth exploration of the pieces that I am able to interact with.

"I'd truthfully like to be able to access the artists' personal pages."

Related Works of Art

his thing with the metal bands is really confusing and i wish there was an explaintion on by the one that dings. I mean whats soposse to activate it?


Hello Bert,

5 Waves was a piece that was self-activated, it ran on a programmable logic controller which had a twenty minute cycle where it ran thru various movements. We had thought about adding an explanation of the piece, in the end I thought the mystery of having to study the piece to see what it did made it more interesting in the end.

Jack Pavlik

Related Materials

Mary Abby writes "..."Expanded Drawing," a clever new show organized by the Minnesota Artists' Exhibition Program." In her Feb. 5, 2009 article in the Star Tribune, "Art: Drawn by four", she goes on to say Peterson's work really sizzles. "The most fabulous is the witty "Underground Plot of the Royal Pommes Frites," which depicts an 18th-century garden in which Indians and American Revolution-era soldiers skirmish amid potato plants under the watchful eye of scarecrow versions of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette. It's an eye-teasing technical marvel and plenty of fun." Check it out in entertainment arts at: http://www.startribune.com/entertainment/art/39148402.html

Dylan Thomas of the Southwest Journal writes, " Jack Pavlik's "12 Bands" grabs your attention before you even set foot in the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) gallery.

Positioned so that it is visible down a long, second-floor corridor at the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, Pavlik's mechanical sculpture beckons visitors from nearly a city block away. Its namesake components — 12 thin strips of blue steel — undulate like prairie grass in the wind or kelp in the ocean tides.

It's mesmerizing. And curious visitors who are drawn down that long corridor may be surprised when they find themselves in the middle of a drawing exhibition.

"Expanded Drawing" pushes and pulls at the definition of the medium. But what unites the elements of the show — paper cutouts, prints, calligraphy and kinetic sculpture — is a celebration of the line, the essence of drawing.

Nicholas Conbere's landscapes come closest to the traditional definition of drawing, although the majority of his pieces in this show are prints. Still, those prints — made with a combination of digital and intaglio techniques — show off Conbere's fine draftsmanship.

The large prints stitch together drawings of urban architecture and rural landscapes, suggesting the transformation of wild spaces by development, as well as the way time and the elements can return man-made spaces to their natural state.

Conbere's circuitous compositions invite the viewer into the shifting environments, but one gets the sense the path he draws would be as difficult to follow as one of M.C. Escher's impossible stairways. Conbere links a dirt trail to a crumbling bridge to a forgotten stone stairwell, all images that seem to have been drawn from life.

Michelle Johnson puts her pen to a very different use, weaving her spidery calligraphy into patterns that resemble fractals or Buddhist mandalas.

This looks like disciplined, meditative work. Seeing it, you imagine Johnson hunched over a table, slowly building on a pattern of overlapping Ss or Ks until it fills the page.

Johnson works with just one letter or several or sometimes whole words, layering them in different colors. The individual marks on the page begin to look like cloth fibers under the microscope.

Really, "weaving" is an appropriate word to describe Johnson's exacting, repetitive technique. The MAEP gallery opens up onto an exhibition of modern textile art, which makes for an interesting comparison to what Johnson is doing.

Intricacy is part of what makes Sonja Peterson's large-scale paper cutouts so appealing. Both of Peterson's two pieces on display in "Expanded Drawing" are giant webs of paper in which the negative space has been precisely described by a sharp blade.

These webs — sometimes literally spider webs, but more often tangles of vines, thistles or roots — bind the images that form Peterson's narrative. They're also a visual metaphor for the food web, that updating of the old food chain concept from science class.

Food is at issue in both of Peterson's cutouts. One concerns an interesting era in the history of the potato; the other dwells on some of the more disturbing aspects of the fast food industry, à la "Fast Food Nation."

As you're taking all this in, "12 Bands" is silently working its magic in the background. (Pavlik has another piece in the show that, sadly, was malfunctioning during a recent visit.)

The workings of the sculpture are fascinating. A small electric motor pulls a bicycle chain that turns a shaft that, in turn, pumps 12 whimsically sculpted pistons. Those pistons gently prod the steel bands into a graceful swaying movement.

A spotlight above "12 Bands" projects its shadow onto the white gallery wall. As the springy bands warp, cross and uncross, a kind of live line drawing plays out in the shadows.

The shadow, then, is the opposite of what we think of as drawing. Instead of describing one shape, these lines shift and change. While a pen and ink is static, this dances.


Related Exhibitions

Creatures Great and Small at Kenny Schachter ROVE Gallery

33 – 34 Hoxton Square London N1 6NN

Kinetica Museum’s group show Creatures Great and Small showcases the work of 10 UK and International Artists experimenting with evolution, hybridisation and the infiltration of technology. The artworks vivify inanimate materials with energetic vitality and are a comment on the relationship between our technologically enhanced society and the natural world.

Curated by Dianne Harris


Youtube video of the exhibition in London:


OPENING TIMES 2nd October-19th October 2008 Kinetica Special Event 17th October 6pm-9pm Open all other days 11am - 6pm Closed: Sunday 5th & Sunday 12th October

Related Events

  • Opening Reception: Thursday, January 22, 7 p.m.
  • Artist-led Tour: Thursday, January 29, 7 p.m.
  • Critics' Trialogue: Thursday, February 5, 7 p.m. with Jay Gabler

Related Links