Perambulating the Bounds

Sunday, April 09, 2006

Repurposed art at Alter in Clarksville

I got up to Clarksville today to see the show at Alter Gallery. Alter is a small nonprofit space run by a few young recent APSU grads on what I assume is a near-zero budget. They have a single large second floor, windowless room in Clarksville’s old downtown. It’s got a good rough feel, and well-lit enough to make up for the lack of windows.

The current show is work by Blayne Clements and Miranda Herrick (Miranda is one of the people running the gallery, and really seems to be the prime force behind it). The two artists both did work with reused materials, playing off of each other while they were developing it. Miranda’s main piece is a large rag rug, made out of plastic bags rather than scraps of cloth. Rag rugs are one of those pieces of Southern vernacular home furnishings made by tying together bit of cloth in a continuous spiral. Miranda learned how to make them from her grandmother. Her grandmother used to buy cloth for the rugs, although I think the original idea was you could make them from scraps. Like a quilt. So it makes sense to make one from plastic bags, although it creates what Kristina Arnold calls a “tacky crafty” effect, its smooth surfaces glistening rather than offering the soft, rough texture of cloth. It also ends up weighing 75 pounds as Miranda points out in the gallery guide, and took her a year or so to assemble. The piece looks like a pool, with a dull blue aqueous center, and it makes you see the similarities between this common home décor and mandalas and other circular forms for meditation.

Clements cuts up product packaging and reassembles it into abstract and figurative shapes. He does things like rearrange Kool cigarette cartons to separate the blue, green, and the white letters, rearranging them to create a sort of iris. Beer 6-pack cartons turn into a landscape. I liked the more abstract pieces best. One consists of many UPC bar codes shingled, with an image of a woman in a breath mask with a bar code across it. “Square Study” has a whole bunch of panels, each one running a riff on a different texture and color of packaging – popcorn, some sort of decorative gray and black pattern with an Indian motif, one that’s silver, another dark blue, and so on.

The work in this show reminded me of several other artists working with product packaging and discarded materials: Louis Cameron, Mimi Moncier, Dan Peterman. It’s a pretty rich vein, and these two artists make nice statements of their own from it.

Alter is located at 124B Legion Street in Clarksville. The only scheduled gallery hours are 2-4 on Sundays, so this show will also be open next Sunday (April 16). You can probably also try them at to arrange a visit another time


  • I am a big fan of recycled art.


    By Blogger A COLLAGE A DAY, at 12:05 PM  

  • Is there any place online that I could see them.


    By Blogger A COLLAGE A DAY, at 12:08 PM  

  • I don't think Miranda or Blayne have much or any of their stuff on-line. There's a detail from Miranda's rag rug in this review in the Clarksville newspaper.

    By Blogger David Maddox, at 10:25 PM  

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