Tierra Del Sol presents a survey exhibition of Dru McKenzie, one of the program’s longest resident artists. Curated from over 25 years of work, McKenzie draws on various inspirations found in high fashion magazines and National Geographic
to produce a richly layered and deeply personal iconography.
McKenzie’s mastery lies in her interpretative approach to her subject matter. Like the work of Betye Saar, McKenzie transforms ordinary imagery she encounters in the world and on the page into something potent and uniquely her own, with an indigeneity that invokes a mysticism fundamental to sensory experience. This resonance is accomplished in the emblematic rendering of her images and the layering of colored pencil and brush tip markers on dynamic color fields of acrylic paint.
Color references pop aesthetics in McKenzie’s compositions, similar to Katherine Bernhardt’s practice of using bold colors to break down common imagery into essential details. McKenzie explores geometry and dimension when she considers the elements of a subject’s face, paying particular attention to eyes and eyelashes, made more resolved against her emotionally weighted, hued backgrounds.
Considering McKenzie’s concept oriented focus, there is a correlation with the graphic works of Huguette Caland, who like McKenzie liberates human and animal figures from the confines of normality and predictability. Both artists tap into the symbolic and sacred nature of form, extending the viewer’s scope of the ritual of making and seeing.
McKenzie further consecrates her work with her process of beginning and ending every piece with the inclusion of her first name. Invoking the sacred geometry of three, Dru appears like a contemporary tag with ancient origins in all of her compositions, as if to remind that viewer that she, as artist, is sharing her access to the transformative power of the mystic over the mundane.
These magical works are on view for the first time at Tierra del Sol Gallery in Chinatown. The exhibition runs from July 10 to August 28, 2020 and can be viewed in person by appointment or on the gallery website.