Surreal watercolor goats meld into hands forming the “rock on” gesture. These spread across architectural graph paper, large sheets of which hang like ancient pelts covered in cave drawings. Such an eclectic piece is just one of the strange offerings found in Heather Freeman’s art exhibit, showing now through March 16th at Memorial Hall’s Main Gallery. The afore-mentioned piece is entitled “Tractor” after its mechanical background matter.
This print represents themes consistent throughout Freeman’s work. Her art is characterized by symbols of varied clarity, usually natural ones like animals or plants, printed on top of a dizzying barrage of vehicles, like trucks and airplanes. The print’s mechanical elements are precise and surgical, while the watercolor areas recall a time when art was not so accurate. Freeman works this dichotomy, between natural and industrial, to her advantage.
Each piece has an outlandish grace that tickles the observer’s more sensible faculties.
Some prints, like “fire truck 2”, resemble a technical designer’s discarded brainstorms. They look like someone raided a computer’s recycle bin, and salvaged these quixotic images. Other wall pieces filled with bugs and semi-trucks match the contents of an eleven-year-old’s brain, except the artist has collapsed the items beneath a flower-press. The result is jilted art where a fluid medium – like watercolor – marries a futuristic drafting style, fostering strange offspring.
But strange is good.
Careful examination of Freeman’s pieces reveals even more hidden elements. In numerous pieces she scribbles miniscule script around her subject. The show’s blood runs with whimsy, and these snippets reveal the creative mind behind it all. In “Ship Shape”, a mouse and a bat have a lilliputian conversation about their genealogical similarities in German. Or in “Jet-i-son”, a flying elephant man tells viewers to “ssh,” and use their “outside voice”.
Critics often wonder what occurs in the artist’s mind. Freeman allows a clear look, although it’s just as enigmatic as expected.
Students should pause from their busy day and hunt Freeman’s pieces for the small, scribbled messages amongst her creative, sprawling endeavors. After all, it’s not often that one can talk with an artist, especially one so absurd.