Blue McRight


Blue McRight, photo: William Short

BLUE McRIGHT: Immersive

Artwork requires a certain level of instability to be truly interesting and significant; it has to pose a challenge to its viewers, engage with the beholder yet remain elusive. Above all, it can't present itself in a situation of fixity; it needs to have more than a grain of mystery, subtlety, and potential. Blue McRight's objects reveal themselves incompletely, acting through suggestion rather than self-exposure; they have an iceberg-like quality that enhances their profound air of mystery and consequence. Her work addresses the major environmental issues of our time; through provocation and metaphor it prompts the viewer to take on an active role. McRight honors the imaginative intelligence of her viewers. Their engagement is crucial for her—she wants her concerns to be clear but also shaped through the lens of response.

McRight has the ability to raise issues that are fundamental and relevant through profound shifts in levels of visual reality. The works begin with facticity—they are constructed from found objects (vintage brass hose nozzles and lawn sprinklers, rubber hoses, books, tree branches, elastic bandages, thread, and paint) that undergo transformative operations that work with, rather than conceal, their origins. Her process abstracts the objects that she painstakingly creates but also enhances their realist core. The edgy and indirect beauty of the work, its spectacular and enigmatic nature, seduces the viewer into engaging with it.

Through her work, McRight asks one of the fundamental questions of our climate-challenged times: What are we doing with our dwindling water resources? Her interest in water issues dates back to the California drought of the 1990s, when an article on the practice of lawn painting appeared in the Los Angeles Times. The publication of this article marked a major turning point in McRight's practice, causing her to see the conventions of domestic landscaping as evidence of an unnatural relationship between cultural practice and environmental reality. More importantly, it evoked a desire to examine environmental issues. Southern California’s diminishing water supply provides the context for a body of work that focuses on the way water has become a symbol of the conflict between nature’s scarcities and a culture of excess.

McRight's C.O.L.A. project represents a continuation of her interest in water. The installation, titled Font (2016), references circulatory systems as they relate to patterns of use of water and knowledge. Font is built up from a foundation of hundreds of secondhand books—an immersive, solid wall of them, all dealing with the topic of water. These books serve as an architectural armature for a number of garden faucets, some with attached hoses that link to other faucets or spill to the floor. Font has multiple meanings—it refers to religious ritual, spiritual beginnings, sources of life, and wellsprings of knowledge; it points to the end of an era of ignorance regarding the environment. Font is attuned to its place in the present, possessing both specificity and universality. Through its seductive beauty and curious construction, McRight's work makes a poetic and philosophical appeal to the senses, one that binds a harsh truth to the hope of change and regeneration.

—Kathleen Whitney

Blue McRight
Born 1956, Wilmington, DE
Lives and works in Venice, CA

Evergreen State College, Olympia, WA, 1977–79
Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, 1974–75

Selected Exhibitions
2015 Drink Me, Samuel Freeman, Los Angeles (solo)
2013 Quench, Samuel Freeman, Los Angeles (solo)
2012 California Art: Selections from the Frederick R. Weisman Foundation, Carnegie Art Museum, Oxnard, CA (group)
2009 Blue McRight: elsewhere, University Art Gallery, San Diego State University
2009 No One You Know, Samuel Freeman, Santa Monica (solo)
2006 Cul-de-Sac: Art from a Suburban Nation, Radford University Art Museum, VA (group)
2005 Morandi's Lawn, Santa Monica Museum of Art (solo)

Selected Bibliography
Blue McRight: Drink Me. Los Angeles: Samuel Freeman, 2015. Essay by Michael Duncan.
Ollman, Leah. "Critic's Choice: Blue McRight's Curious Sculptures Bridge Real and Surreal." Los Angeles Times, February 1, 2013.
Zellen, Jody. "Blue McRight: 'Drink Me' at Samuel Freeman." art ltd. 9 (March–April 2015): 30.

Artist's Website