Siren, 2014. Mixed media, 60 x 111 x 52in.
“Few artists can take the found objects route as adeptly and as wittily as Blue McRight. For the last year and a half she’s been working on a series of works that delve into her interest in water and seafaring. The results in the show “Drink Me” also reference the current drought in California and our troubled relationship to water in this part of the world. Most of the work is sculptural — including free-standing pieces that marry tape-wrapped tree branches or hoses with vintage brass watering nozzles and propellers; plus two installations incorporating vintage Boy Scout water canteens.
In the former series, McRight has covered the tubular shapes of tree branches or hoses with continuously wound tape, sometimes blue and sometimes black. One might see it as the “body” of the work. For the artist, the blue evokes the Blue-ringed Octopus —although beautiful to look at and much sought after by underwater photographers, it produces a deadly venom when provoked. The centerpiece in the main gallery is the sculpture “Siren,” which evokes that same beauty/danger paradox — “siren” being the name of the mythical female creatures who sat on rocks and sang alluring songs, drawing sailors to crash their boats on their shores. This “Siren” is nine-feet long and suspended by wire in the middle of the room, its body twisty and undulating (a large tree branch underneath), tipped with a couple dozen threatening-looking nozzles pointing in different directions. It is also reminiscent of another mythical monster of Greek mythology, the multi-headed Hydra.
In “Siren” and a series of much smaller pieces sitting on shelves in the next room, McRight has carefully wrapped the form in tape, and threaded the surfaces to help them keep their shape. An old propeller has been added to a couple of the smaller pieces, which overall seem more humorous and less threatening, due in part to their tabletop size; but each retains a lively character unto itself. Elsewhere, a wall of elegant drawings of nautical objects on white panel — including a propeller, an anchor, a ship — nicely rounds out this excellent exhibition.” – Scarlet Cheng
Drink Me, Blue McRight’s eighth solo exhibition with the gallery, doubles as an invitation and a dare. Her latest body of work, almost exclusively sculptural, straddles definitions both literal and thematic. The tightly wrapped forms from Quench (2013) have returned, sprouting nozzles as before, but radically different in scale. Water remains the focus of McRight’s world, and Drink Me is a deep and dangerous ocean.
Anchoring the installation is Siren (2014), a nine-foot-lo
ng tree wrapped in brilliant blue bandages, suspended from the ceiling to hang mere inches from the floor. In Greek mythology Sirens were dangerous, beautiful sea creatures who lured sailors to their death on rocky coasts. Today, mechanical sirens still signal danger, yet we are inexorably drawn to disaster. The Siren of Drink Me is a mysterious figure, warning and seductive. This duality of darkness and attraction is everywhere in McRight’s work.
The choice of color for Siren comes from the Blue-Ringed Octopus, so named for its stunning display of brilliant blue circles when provoked. Small enough to fit in your hand, but deadly enough to kill, this tiny creature reminds us to keep a wary eye lest we be dashed upon the rocks.
McRight wraps her works tightly with bandages, binding them in intricate patterns of thread. It is unclear if this is to protect them or us. Bursting forth and holding back, referring to constriction, sexuality and transformation, using canteens, anchors, hoses, nozzles and trees: McRight’s unique sculptural language drives Drink Me, creating uncanny hybrids that dare you to come closer.