February 8, 2018
Visiting artist Amy Petit’s exhibit in the University of Montana Western Fine Arts Gallery, “Establishing Connection,” explored the ephemeral themes of memory, loss, tradition, and nostalgia, and the changing nature of communication in an increasingly digital world.
The Pacific Northwest sculptor, who received her MFA from the University of Montana after working several years in the graphic design industry, uses heavy materials such as cast metal and glass to create objects that explore the often complicated and sometimes frustrating methods we use to communicate, and how those techniques have changed in the modern era.
For example, several pieces in the exhibit focused on the fading art of handwriting. This inspired Petit to create a series of copper prosthetics to remind us “of the way to write.” The feel of these pieces is a nod the Industrial Revolution, a time of great change.
Another transitional period that inspires Petit is the advent of technology. At her artist Q&A discussion, Petit talked about the ways that communication has changed.
“We are at a time in our existence when the technological tools we use, especially for communication, are evolving and becoming obsolete at a fast rate. I’m interested in exploring what that does to our interactions as people,” she said.
Petit’s piece “Facetime,” allows visitors to place their chins in metal armatures to make the viewer explore the now sometimes uncomfortable experience of looking into someone else’s eyes, something that can be a rarity in the age of text messages and portable devices.
The juxtaposed use of metal and glass in her work can resonate feelings of permanence mixed with frailty, conductivity with diffusion, and memory with sentiment. “Worth Saving” explores the in-between moments of relocation with moving boxes cast in bronze and packing peanuts cast in glass. Just out of clear view, fiber optic lights and phone screens are diffused to obscurity by the thick glass “packing materials.” What we choose to move with us, both physically and in our memories and emotions, has a weight we carry, often throughout our entire lives. However, the way we remember events in our lives is continually in flux.
For more information about the University of Montana Western Fine Arts Gallery, please contact Aja Mujinga Sherrard by email at [email protected], or call 406-683-7313.