Through Oct. 31
Samantha Bates grew up in western Washington State and has spent a lifetime inspired by the abundant green of the Pacific Northwest. To her, it is home in every way. “I breathe differently surrounded by trees,” she says. “My walk is different. I see things in a different way.”
Bates has shown her work nationally for the last eight years in places like Seattle, Boston, Miami, and here in Asheville. (She was the commencement speaker and graduate-program representative at the Massachusetts College of Art and Design graduation in 2017.)
Her current show at Momentum Gallery in downtown Asheville conveys her outdoor experiences, yet is not defined or limited by any material or mode of expression. Bates explains, “Factors of tempo, pressure, tension, and medium persistently change — but the attentiveness with which the work is approached persists.” Her wall-based sculptures reach out into the surrounding space. “Tidal Waters” is created from hand-woven yarn and cotton piping cord, embroidery thread, and beads; the materials, all in various shades of blue, depict moving waters. Mangled tree roots are central to “Stretch, Grow, Shelter,” a wall-mounted piece that extends to the floor.
Bates’ art makes extensive use of acrylic coupled with gouache, as in “Soak,” where thinly laid marks obliterate the underpainting, giving the viewer the sensation of looking through a rainstorm. Organic shapes dance across the surfaces: clouds, rippling streams, tree branches, fog.
The essence of the Pacific Northwest shows up in a repeating mist. “Can I summon the experience of nature in my work?” Bates reflects rhetorically. “Can I create the feeling of standing on the bridge before starting the Staircase Trail in Olympic National Park? I bring this intention to my work.”
— Jolene Mechanic
Momentum Gallery, 52 Broadway, Asheville. momentumgallery.com. 828-505-8550.