Top Mix Press Release

From Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program

For Immediate Release: February 4, 2004

Top Mix
An Installation of Digital Art
by Alyn Silberstein

February 27–May 2, 2004
The Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Minneapolis—The Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP) at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts presents new work by visual artist Alyn Silberstein in “Top Mix.” Opening February 27, “Top Mix” is an audacious exhibition of digital art, featuring eye-popping large-scale ink-jet prints installed over giant wall murals, designed and painted by the artist.

Based in Minneapolis, Silberstein has challenged the conventions of “fine art” for more than two decades. He is known for wild and irreverent iconography and for playing with the boundaries between “high” and “low” culture. Silberstein earned a bachelor’s degree in fine art from the Minneapolis College of Art and Design in 1984. In the twenty years following, he created a large body of oversized paintings and drawings. His signature work boasted explosive compositions teeming with anthropomorphic shapes rendered in comic book style.

Faced with the impracticality of large-scale painting, Silberstein became increasingly interested in the possibilities of digital imaging. “Digital technology has revolutionized music, photography and film,” says Silberstein, “Why not fine art?” He began manipulating digital photos of his garden, the Minnesota State Fair, and an assortment of snack packaging. Responding to nuances in each photo, he sampled patterns, textures, and colors. Then mixing images like a DJ mixes music he pushed his computer through hundreds of steps to render, full-scale, the final art. The prints are rich and wild abstractions of breathtaking proportions. Like animated Rorschach tests, these colorful images spin out endless associations in the minds of the viewers.

Many different aesthetics inspire and inform Silberstein’s work. Influences range from hip-hop culture to the abstract paintings of Willem de Kooning and Gerhard Richter to illuminated manuscripts of India and Iran to underground comix, op-art, and graffiti art. Describing his work, Silberstein says, “I’m not trying to make work that looks like drawing or painting. ‘Top Mix’ is a sort of visual funhouse, with each print distorting reality in different ways. This work would not have been possible even a few years ago. It’s a new idiom made possible by new technology.”

An opening reception for “Top Mix” will be held Thursday, February 26, from 7 to 9 p.m. An “Artist’s Talk” will be held Thursday, March 11, at 7 p.m. A “Critics Trialogue” featuring visual arts critic Jeffrey Kalstrom will take place on Thursday, March 25, at 7 p.m., in the Minnesota Artists Gallery at The Minneapolis Institute of Arts. Co-sponsored by the Visual Art Critics Union of Minnesota (V.A.C.U.M.), the trialogue is a series designed to bring together critics, artists, and the public in a gallery setting. This three-way conversation experiments with the creative possibilities of criticism and accompanies every MAEP exhibition. The exhibition, opening reception, and all related events are free and open to the public.

“Top Mix” is produced and presented by the Minnesota Artists Exhibition Program (MAEP), an artist-managed curatorial department of The Minneapolis Institute of Arts, and is made possible by generous support from Jerome Foundation.