Prudence Gill, former curator of the Hopkins Hall Galleries at The Ohio State University and brilliant artist in her own right, just concluded a show at the Biscayne Nature Center on Key Biscayne, Florida.
Larger-than-life scale ceramic interpretations of familiar found objects among the Keys and coastal waterways demand attention and new consideration as fossil remnants.
Of course, with climate change threatening the already-stressed ecosystems of the Florida Keys, these elements seem to auger a natural history retrospective of a long-gone epoch, reminders that such rapid change makes each present moment recede so much faster. Certainly, the harried pace of the (post)modern world that threatens these places no doubt also make Gill's childhood memories of the area seem so much older than they could be. Objects in mirror are closer than they appear.
Every texture and feature is magnified in Gill's treatment of mundane beach items: an urchin, a piece of coral, small shells. Such amplification of scale is only possible by a dearth of information drawn from close observation by younger eyes and small, nimble fingers.
Conversely, native wood re-emerges carved into a boat form, bearing a miniaturized cypress swamp.
Gill's deeply personal study and treatment of the familiar objects of the Florida Keys becomes a spiritual recollection in "Ghosting Nature."
These aren't any beaches or an archetypal swamp nor is her work cold cartography; Gill renders impressions of her childhood habitat from a soul connection with particular places. Small gestures reveal a scale of intimate connection with an expansive location. It is easy to see the artist as an innocent and exploring child in these installations as these impressions are rendered with the joy of first experience. We get to see the beauty of life by the water without the cynicism or prejudice of our own experiences, but as a child.