The idiosyncratic work of Michelle Lougee reflects on the interconnections in our world. She uses banal materials, natural or man-made, and repetition. Her organic forms are reminiscent of both the micro and the cosmic world. Like the post-minimalist artist Eva Hesse, Lougee’s abstract vocabulary suggests relationships, is messy (reflective of the true state of the world), and has a theatricality about it.
Lougee’s work displays a tension between the materials she selects and her conceptual framework. She asks us to reflect on the easily discarded, omnipresent plastic shopping bags and our indifferent attitude towards nature—the inherent assumption that the environment will remain untouched by our trash. Her organic, cellular forms created with these ubiquitous markers of our technology are luscious, with inviting colors. She reminds us that our dependence on convenience accelerates our destruction of our environment. Yet the discord of using the bags to make her point invites us to see our cognitive dissonance.
Lougee uses the bags to make nests or little critters, thereby creating stress between the plastic and the natural. Her ladder-like work, Ascent, with its dangling teardrop constructions—much like insect larvae cocoons or bird’s nests—tapers as it reaches the top rung. This narrowing of maneuvering room suggests that our choices are being circumscribed by our use of unnatural materials.
The bright red Creeper, despite being a form that looks like it belongs under a microscope, is rather too large for comfort, being 12 ′ 12 ′ 6 inches. It spreads out in all directions, with odd extrusions and a pregnant belly. It appears eager to clonally colonize whatever space is available. This carbuncle metaphorically creeps us out while staking its muscular claim to real estate.
Lougee is also showing a series of drawings, not made with traditional materials but with her signature bags, layering elements like papyrus paper and fabric with the “line” created by stitching. These textural works evoke microscopic structures, suggesting an underlying, unseeing world that is bulging with possibilities and life. Assemble features a crowd of cellular shapes aggregating on the right side of the work—they might even be dividing—as the aren’t of a standard size and each has a strong nucleus. She also creates clay squares intimating a rich, cellular order, although each ceramic square is a tiny repetition in size. The have a reduced, earth-toned palette teeming with possibilities.
Michelle Lougee looks into the heart of our pulsing world, depicting macro and micro life forms using ubiquitous material to grant us a new look at our everyday world.
—B. Lynch, Director, Trustman Art Gallery
- Trustman Art Gallery, Simmons College, Boston, MA, February - March, 2015