Maija Fiebig, Thuy-Van Vu & Linda Connor at G. Gibson Gallery

SEATTLE

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“Remnants of a House on Eastern Avenue,” 2006
Thuy-Van Vu
Oil on paper, 51″ x 86″ framed
Photo: courtesy G. Gibson Gallery

Seattle artist Thuy-Van Vu’s House (Jersey City) (2007) has its insides exposed for all to see. Wires flail around the shell of a building that has crumbled into disrepair, as gray and hopeless as the sky around it. Though there are no belongings or evidence of its human occupants, the Seattle artist’s brash brushstrokes bear heavy emotional weight. The uneasy feeling that comes from seeing something gutted before your eyes inhabits this work that exposes a complex interior as it breaks out into exterior space. Vu’s newer work moves inside, portraying a deconstructed dresser at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and an empty public school classroom. But, much like the decaying buildings, they provoke a desire to fill their voids with human belongings and their insides with meaning. A negotiation of the line between interiority and exteriority inhabits the work of all three artists on view at G. Gibson Gallery. In comparison to Vu’s large canvases, the spaces of Maija Fiebig’s 12 paintings exist on a micro-scale. Also based in Seattle, the artist visually pulls apart the leaves and veins of plants to create elaborately patterned silhouettes. Evocative of traditional ukiyo-e prints, the details of Fiebig’s dissections pull the viewer in, as if they are speaking in a deliberate whisper that requires physical closeness in order to be discerned.

Linda Connor’s photographs are of a similarly modest scale, though their landscapes focus outward, on exterior spaces—laundry strung beneath a doorframe in India, a man lingering under a pyramid’s shadow in the Egyptian desert, a girl standing alone after church, draped in white fabric. San Francisco-based Connor keeps the viewer at a distance from her subjects. Yet, their isolation, coupled with the photographer’s soft lighting, makes one feel like a voyeur, intruding on vulnerable moments. In Man in Pyramid Shadow, Egypt (1989), the figure reclining into the rolling landscape resides so far from the camera that he is barely perceivable as a human being. But the artist creates a private viewing window into the moment so vividly that one is compelled to project a narrative onto the tiny, black speck. The subtle affects that underlie all three artists’ works ensure they are not easily reduced to a single category. As a show of all women artists that opened just days before the presidential inauguration and the Women’s March on Washington, it is also a testament to the need for each voice to be heard.

—ERIN LANGNER