Let's Get Small 

Artspace pushes miniature to the max in ThinkSmall 6.

click to enlarge Scott McCarney's "Life"
  • Scott McCarney's "Life"

Small things are sometimes perceived as less significant but they are often more delicate, require particular skill, and in some cases hold more meaning. A token carried in the hand or pocket can hold a world of significance.

The large impact of a smaller size is the concept behind the exhibition, "ThinkSmall 6" on view at Artspace at Plant Zero in Manchester. This year marks the sixth biennial international miniature invitational, where more than 260 artists submit work no larger than 3 inches by 3 inches, and no larger than 1 foot by 1 foot framed. "ThinkSmall" curator and chairman, Santa De Haven, points out the creative challenges inherent in working within such small parameters, and how much artists relish the challenge, often glimpsing their work from new vantage points.

Aubrey Walker, from Powhatan, creates broad city scenes with pastel on black paper. In two works displayed in this exhibition, "View at Union Square" and "Towards the Hudson" her Hopper-like views are reduced to the essentials of color and shape, streamlining her compositions and reinforcing the particular strengths of pastel.

Sundry mediums are represented in "ThinkSmall 6" including drawing, painting, sculpture, found objects, mixed media and variations thereof. Brazilian artist Eva Rocha uses human hair and fiberglass to create a miniature classical nude in the vein of Ingres' "Bather." And Leslie Banta, from Staunton, crafted "Bed Box (In Frame)", a 2.5-inch-by-2.5-inch shadowbox housing a miniature 3-D bed intended, the artist asserts, to explore "how containment suggests the tension we experience between privacy and intimacy and the physical space we inhabit."

Virginia Commonwealth University graduate and Rochester, N.Y., native Scott McCarney, whose work appears in collections such as the Brooklyn Museum of Art Library and the Victoria and Albert Museum in London, offers a delightful 2-inch-by-2.5-inch collaged artist's book of 36 pages, called "Life," mimicking Life magazine covers but with a playful twist. Another book by Richmond's Carly Burtner, "Oprah's Book Club Book List, Abridged for your Convenience" includes excerpts from John Steinbeck's "East of Eden" and Edwidge Danticat's "Breath, Eyes, Memory," among others, in a spiral-bound miniature format, resulting in a packet of prose poems and fiction shorts.

In an addendum to the exhibition, an exploration of small space and text extensions entitled "Flash Fiction" includes 15 short stories of 100 words or less, typeset in 3-inch blocks and hung around the tiny alcove gallery recently christened Smallspace. Beth Morelli and Katy Resch curated this miniature lit portion of the exhibition, which will include flash fiction readings at 7 p.m. on Nov. 11 and Dec. 2. S

"ThinkSmall 6" will be on view at Artspace gallery through Dec. 18. For information on the exhibition and related events, call 804-232-6464 or visit artspacegallery.org.


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