Photo: Installation view of Terry Karson: Commons, photo courtesy of MAM.

Terry Karson: Commons

September 20 2012 - December 23 2012

The installation Commons designed and installed by Bozeman, Montana, artist Terry Karson is an approach that deals with every point of view in a selected space. The surface is comprised of cardboard packaging, which has been meticulously collected, precisely cut, sanded, and assembled in a patchwork of panels and columns. Karson has a mosaic approach with a material that is not normally associated with mosaic. The resulting surface communicates not just a feeling of wear and tear but reveals a surface and form which has withstood relentless pressure. The sanding removes the literal advertising and leaves all but a remnant of the image, perhaps random arrangements of advertising color. It is an abstraction.

The installation has been a long time coming. Karson visited MAM when the building itself was under construction and was inspired to create a site-specific work for the Faith Pickton and Josephine Aresty Gallery. Subsequently, Karson created a scale model of what would become Commons and appealed to MAM for an exhibition opportunity. MAM was pleased to oblige in hosting this site-specific work by one of the regions treasured contemporary artists.

Karson never shies away from pushing the expressive boundaries, as is experienced in Commons. For Karson, the gallery presented specific features and challenges that he wanted to incorporate into his split level installation.

Entitled Commons, one immediately conjures a meeting, place, an area for communal gathering. The presence of columns communicates a place of importance, of sustenance, where perhaps a temple or a bank once stood. And finally, the method of surface treatment consistently conveys the ancient.

MAM is no stranger to large installations. An art form popular since the 1970s, MAM has hosted over 12 installations in the last 5 years. Each one has been site-specific and created for a specific gallery. Installations provide viewers with the experience of being immersed within and surrounded by the art. Commonsmasterfully communicates this sense of immersion.

Karson will be at MAM for a fall residency and available for interaction with community members during the installation of the work. His residency will occur the week prior to the September 20 opening, which will feature a gallery talk by the artist. A publication documenting the installation with an essay will accompany the exhibition.

The residency, video, and publication are sponsored by the Paul G. Allen Family Foundation. MAM would also like to thank The Missoula Independent and Allied Waste Services for their contributions. 

<p>Installation view of <span class="italic">Terry Karson: Commons</span></p>

Installation view of Terry Karson: Commons