Selected, Removed, Obscured

Karen Klee-Atlin, Blazed Birch – Black Ribbon, (2018). Reductive linocut on paper, 20 x 20 in.

Karen Klee-Atlin at Shift Gallery through Saturday September 29, 2018

Stephanie Hargrave

Karen Klee-Atlin’s show Some Obstructed Views at Shift features new prints on paper and paintings. These works show views that are selected, removed or obscured, whether actual or cultural. For example, the largest piece in the show, which runs from ceiling to floor on tarpaulin, features images of the hands of people while giving a speech. The hands and the gestures made while speaking are oversized and cause the viewer to pause and contemplate what is taking place, and how expressive they are even without motion. The next works are X’s randomly placed that serve as indicators of certain portions of a speech being untrue or misleading. These works are minimal and powerful, and the point is taken immediately – the onus is on the viewer to verify what is seen or heard to be true or false. Clearly, just because something is stated does not make it honest, true, or even believable. These pieces are clear and pulled back in terms of palette, but speak volumes, especially in our current political climate.

Featured on the right side of the gallery is Klee-Atlin’s Blazed Tree series. They are a stunning group of prints with detail enough keep you gazing, but it’s the ribbons that really set them apart. The ribbons are indicators – a way to ease one’s path through the woods. At other times they are markers that signal a future culling. A ribbon to me always means a present of sorts, but these are merely a knot, not a bow – a gift regardless if you are lost in a forest and suddenly see your way, but also a reminder of the realities of how we use our forests. I suppose the gift then is the later use of the wood, and as artists, we all need it for the continuation of our work. These are woodcuts after all.

The show includes other works that focus on literal landscape views that have been physically obscured. No matter what has been selected, removed or obscured, the show in its entirety is thoughtful, well executed, and features something Klee-Atlin does quietly and well – make beautiful art using a variety of techniques and media.