“Boom Days,” an exhibit of paintings by Colorado-based artist Claire van der Plas, will be on display in MCC’s Overbrook Art Gallery from Jan. 14 through Feb. 22.
On Thursday, Jan. 17, an opening reception will be held in the Overbrook Theater lobby from 3:30-5 p.m. and features van der Plas discussing her artwork in Stevenson Center Room 1100 from 4-5 p.m.
The Overbrook Art Gallery is free and open to the public on Monday-Friday, from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m., with special weekend and evening hours during performances in the adjacent Overbrook Theater. For more information, call (231) 777-0324.
“Over the last several years I have painted images of rocks and water that relate to the history of mining in Colorado, “said van der Plas. “These works contrast the orderliness of the grid with the organic patterns of rock and water.”
“Some of these paintings are exacting representations of rocks used in Leadville’s ‘Boom Days,’ celebrations during which miners compete to demonstrate their drilling skills. Several of these overlay a regular taped grid from my painting process on the rougher grid of numbered squares painted on the actual rocks as part of the drilling competition. The double grids can be read as alluding to topography, the gridding out of surveyed land, numbered claims, and mined and un-mined sections of the landscape.”
“The paintings of water in rivers and containment ponds allude to our long history of attempts to contain and control leachate released by mining from the rocks into the water, and its subsequent unpredictable and uncontainable migration through the environment. The overlaid grids reference our attempts to control our world, both in how we think about it and how we physically alter it. These grids allude to order, mapping, dividing, and the structuring of knowledge into distinct areas.”
“These works are about mining, but they are also about looking, paying close attention, and the labor of painting realism. There is a meditative aspect to the slow work of painting the grain of wood, flaking paint on rough textured rocks, bent timbers in a collapsed building.”
“It is a challenge to depict complex surfaces and spaces in the world and what is on them and beneath them, on the surface of a canvas. This is a challenge that excites and absorbs me, it is work that I find fulfilling. I hope that the viewer, in doing their part of the meaning-making work that is art, is absorbed and excited, and is prompted to think about paying attention – to the surface of the painting, but also to the surface and depths of our world, and the effects we have on it.”
For the past eight years, van der Plas was on the Art Department faculty at Adams State University in Alamosa, CO, where she also served as chair since 2015. She now is the Assistant Dean of Instruction at Colorado Mountain College in Leadville, CO. Previously, she taught and made art in New Zealand, Singapore and North Carolina. While primarily a painter, she has worked in other media, including installation, performance and collaborative art. Her work has been exhibited in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Malaysia and the United States.