Review: Mia Rosenthal at Gallery Joe

MacBook Pro (Caroline), 2013. Photo courtesy of Gallery Joe.

by Rachel Heidenry 

If you find yourself in Old City sometime between now and March 22nd, you must visit Mia Rosenthal’s current exhibition at Gallery Joe, a little bit every day. A show of drawings, Rosenthal presents an intimate look at the contemporary process of art-making. Indesign, MacBooks, google images and photoshop take center stage as the artist renders visible what is typically hidden. While these objects and programs are critically vital for the creative process, their presence in a finished product is nearly always shunned as though seemingly discrediting –  the contemporary camera obscuras.

Google Portrait of eadweard Muybridge, 2013, ink and pencil on paper
Google Portrait of Eadweard Muybridge, 2013. Photo courtesy of Gallery Joe.

Rosenthal’s decision to place these technologies center stage offers a provocative glimpse into the evolution of artistic process. Not only do we view the Apple products and Google jpegs anew, but we examine how the artist sees, encounters and manipulates them. Consequently, the arrangement of icons, the scattering of photos and the background displays become nuanced through the artist’s varied compositions.

iPad, 2014, ink, gouache and graphite on paper
iPad, 2014, ink, gouache and graphite on paper. Photo courtesy of Gallery Joe.

Aside from iPhones and mail apps, Rosenthal includes a large-scale drawing titled Life on Earth. The viewer is invited into a spiral of evolution – dinosaurs, primates, ocean life and plants – each rendered and labeled – organized into a giant mass. Over 1,000 creatures are included, the diversity and abundance only miniscually represented. Contrasted against the redundancy of MacBook pros and search bars, we are left in the realization that while Google Images may simulate infinitude, the tangibility of life’s evolution truly embodies it.

Conceptually, a little bit every day could not have done better.

Detail, Life on Earth, 2013, ink on paper. Photo courtesy of Gallery Joe.

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