Gallery Review: “In Times Past” by Randall Reid

 Mixed Media, 8.25 by 9.75 inches overall at William Campbell Contemporary

Randall Reid, Measured Space (2009)

Although small in scale, Randall Reid’s work currently on view at William Campbell Contemporary Gallery is impressive. Reid used natural materials, such as wood, metal and steel, which have been transformed for human purposes, like rulers and metal signs that have been discarded on the side of the road. Referring to his finished work as “earth symptoms,” these pieces are meant to show how materials always revert back to their natural state. This journey is captured throughout his work on display. By including these found objects into his own work, Reid believes he is “redirecting” the materials natural process. This feeling stems from the idea that no matter what he does to them, these objects will always be in the transition back to a natural state.

Reid collages these found objects together, creating jarring compositions that leave more questions unanswered than answered. As seen in Measured Space and Properties for Lease, Reid’s belief in “earth symptoms” and “redirection” are obvious concerns for the artist. Both pieces incorporate the use of metal and wood rulers arranged and displayed in unconventional ways. By placing metal rulers, that are starting to oxidize and change color on a dark background, in Measured Space, a sense of pressured institutionalization is present in this work. Juxtaposing those metal rules with the wooden rulers along the edges of the work also evokes the idea that everything, even rulers have to follow a specific order and regulation. In comparison to his other piece, Properties for Lease, Reid uses similar metal rules to enclose the cropped metal sign that originally stated “Properties for Lease”. By cropping the sign and leaving only the words “in” and “lease” clearly visible, the work creates a sense of impermanence, but impermanence of what? The material used in his pieces, the artwork itself, or is there a

Randall Reid, 'Properties for Lease' (2009)

deeper insinuation of human impermanence? This feeling of impermanence is masked though by the white pant that covers the metal sign and the two rows of rulers that edged it. White, commonly associated with imaged of divinities and purity, masks the metal man-made object and the processes that the metal has been going through to revert back to it’s natural state. But this white paint, like all other objects, is only temporary because it will also face the destruction of time. This is highlighted by the fact that the while paint is already starting to wear off of the metal surface it covers. All of Reid’s work is connected by these themes of transition, “earth symptoms”, and “redirection”, which leave us questioning our own impact on the world we inhabit.


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