Satirically based ‘Flatland’ project exhibited at Linfield Gallery


Kellie Bowen, Staff Writer

Linfield Gallery is hosting a collaborative exhibition called “Flatland” by a group of artists from Eugene, Oregon, called Ditch Projects. An artist panel was held on Wednesday, Oct. 21, in which seven of ten of the artists talked about Ditch Projects and the exhibit that is currently in Linfield’s gallery.

Ditch Projects started in 2008. Michael Bray is the only original member of the group.

The prompt for Ditch Projects’ exhibit, “Flatlands,” was to read a satirical book called “Flatlands” that was written by Edwin Abbott in 1884.

The artists included: Mike Bray, Mary Morgan, Chelsea Couch, Isami Ching, Lee Asahina, Donald Morgan and Sarah Mikenis. Mary Morgan, Chelsea Couch and Sarah Mikenis are all on their second year in the MFA program with University of Oregon.

Most of these artists are interested in sculpting, video and painting.

Ditch Projects brings hundreds of artists from in and out of the Oregon region to be nominated for internships and collaboration. Most of the artists that are attracted to Ditch Projects come from Los Angeles.

However, Bray mentioned during a slide show that Ditch Projects is not funded by anyone. He said, “We’re not commercial … we’re non-profit.”

Included in Bray’s slide show presentation was the mention of an exhibition the group did called “Birdie Hamilton.” The idea was that the art in the gallery was created by an artist named Birdie Hamilton, but Birdie was a fictional character.

“It was funny when some of the people came through the gallery and asked which one of us was Birdie Hamilton, and we had to tell him that Birdie didn’t exist.” It was merely a collaborated collection.

Another exhibit they put together was called “Dumb Angel,” which was essentially a homage to the Beach Boys’ drummer, Dennis Wilson, who drowned while he was high on cocaine.

Bray explained that they named the exhibition “Dumb Angel” to relate Dennis Wilson to the myth of a man who made wings out of wax and feathers, and when he flew too close to the sun, the wax melted and he fell to his death.

Donald Morgan mentioned that music has been an inspiring asset to creating the individual pieces as well as the exhibit. Music is even playing softly in the “Flatlands” exhibition.

According to the artists, Edwin Abbott’s book, “Flatlands,” is a political satire of a world of flat shapes. The more complex the shape was, the higher in the hierarchy the shape was. But when the narrator, a square, meets a three-dimensional shape, something it has never seen before, the hierarchy is destroyed.

Couch was explaining that in the book, three-dimensions were “so foreign that they can’t actually see the other shapes.”

However, the book was perceived in the artists’ work in several different ways.

For instance, Bray thought about the structure of the story and created a piece that was more about dissecting the structure of shapes.

Asahina used the shapes as an entry point to depicting and displaying the characters in the story. Donald Morgan said that “this is the perfect book for the artist to respond to. Just reading it puts visual images in your head.”

As for Mikenis, she explained to the audience how the “girls” in the story are seen as lines if you look at them one way, but as they turn, the viewer (reader) sees them as dots, so she created a piece of what the “women” looked like in the story in her mind.

To see all ten pieces in the exhibit, the Linfield Gallery hours are Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Saturday from noon to 5 p.m.