Inside – and outside – the gallery at PLUG Projects, works by seven artists from around the country incorporate natural materials, such as lichen, geodes, fungi and fauna. In their paintings, photography, sculptures, and installations, they explore new ways of seeing nature - and the impact of human intervention.
"Rare Earth" marks the 11th exhibition for PLUG Projects, an artist-run exhibition space in the West Bottoms, just down the street from the historic Livestock Exchange Building. PLUG also hosts the studios of five artists in the curatorial collective: Cory Imig, Amy Kligman, Misha Kligman, Nicole Mauser and Caleb Taylor.
An interdisciplinary artist, Cory Imig says "Rare Earth" meets one of PLUG’s goals to bring artists from outside of Kansas City to Kansas City – and it’s one of their larger exhibitions. "We have invited seven artists to present their work that take a really innovative and different approach to looking at the environment and making work about that," she says.
Before the opening earlier this month, Amy Ross, from Boston, painted a nature-inspired drawing on a wall, sketching light strokes of brown paint. In an alleyway next door to the gallery, Leigh Martin, from Oklahoma City, installed a green vine, with purple flowers, wrapping up a rusty ladder.
"We keep trying to activate the space that is not just within the gallery, but is outside of it. She (Martin) has created another hybrid," says painter Misha Kligman. "It’s a hand-knitted vine type thing that is growing, almost installed as if growing in the alley. We’ve seen several people passing by, taking it for the real thing, thinking it’s growing there, but it’s really artificial."
Andy Brayman, an artist based in Kansas City, collects environmental data, from weather to Missouri River levels, and incorporates it into his ceramic pieces. A data wall shows the side of his work that is not usually visible.
"With this show, we have people working in a variety of media, which is typical of a PLUG show," says Amy Kligman, who's also a painter. "But they’re approaching different components of inspiration derived by nature."
The "Artists in Their Own Words" series is supported by the Missouri Arts Council, a state agency.