Picture of the Week: The Hand Held Universe #3 by Amy Myers

November 7, 2023

The Hand Held Universe #3, Amy Myers, 2004, graphite, ink, gouache on paper

Amy Myers is an abstract artist based in New York. She earned her BFA in 1995 from the Kansas City Art Institute and her MFA in Painting in 1999 from the Art Institute of Chicago. She is the recipient of many grants and fellowships, including The Pollock-Krasner Foundation Grant, the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts; Ellen S. Kaminsky Family Foundation Studio Residency and Award at MANA Contemporary; and the Marie Walsh Sharpe Art Foundation Studio Grant. Myers has also held residencies at institutions throughout the world, such as the Yaddo Artist Residency in Saratoga Springs, NY, the Dora Maar House in Menerbes, France, and the American Academy in Rome. Myers has been featured in countless group and solo exhibitions at museums and galleries, including the show Amy Myers: Fearful Symmetry at Wayne State’s Elaine L. Jacob Gallery in 2022. Her work is also part of many public collections, such as the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum (New York, NY); The Kleefeld Museum of Art (California State University, Long Beach, CA); Fort Wayne Museum of Art (Fort Wayne, IN); Greenville County Museum of Art, Greenville, SC); Hudson Valley Museum of Contemporary Art (Peekskill, NY); Laguna Art Museum (Laguna Beach, CA); Museum of Fine Arts (Houston, TX), Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (Overland Park, KS), Perez Art Museum (PAMM, Miami, FL), Nora Eccles Harrison Museum of Art (Utah State University, Logan, UT) and the American Express Corporate Collection. Myers' art has also been discussed in notable publications, such as The New York Times, Hyperallergic, Artnews, Art in America, and BOMB. 

Myers creates large-scale drawings and paintings that analyze “particle physics, biology, philosophy, the human mind, and the mechanics of the universe” She believes “that all subatomic particles exist with the potential to combine with and become other particles.” These interests can be attributed to her upbringing. Her father was a physicist and would share books with her about “molecules and subatomic phenomena,” which prompted frequent conversations with her family on these topics. She explores Newtonian Physics, which examines the internal logic of things, along with Quantum Mechanical Theory, which ponders the unpredicted nature of the universe. Not only is she fascinated by such phenomena, she is also interested in the laws that determine their actions and interactions. Her work is driven by questions that are answered with science, and the constant changes in all things are at the forefront of her process.

She creates symmetry within her work, starting from the outside of her paper and working her way to the center. Myers describes this symmetry as being “reminiscent of the rotation that occurs naturally throughout the entire universe.” Her development of her work is a very organic process, as she does not pre-plan what the finished composition will look like. These ideas are consistent in her 2004 ink drawing The Hand Held Universe #3. In this case, she explores the workings of the universe. The paper for this work spans at 22 ¾ x 22 in., which is smaller than the 30 x 44 in. sheet of paper she typically starts with. Perhaps these large sheets of paper were integrated in her work later on in her career. The slightly smaller sheet of paper may also align with the title of the work: The Hand Held Universe. Myers explores varying possibilities and movements within the work, but in a more intimate capacity. She juxtaposes the dark background with intricate, circular details in white, blue, and a reddish orange in the form she creates. There are also black tracings of circles on the outside. Taking her process into account, these black outlines were likely where Myers’ process began. As the eye moves further into the center, her lines and patterns become more elaborate. The intricacies she creates near the center may demonstrate her interpretation of Newtonian Physics, while her unpredictable, additive process may align with Quantum Mechanical Theory. She maintains symmetry as the form develops, as the form would be nearly identical if it was cut in half. The prominence of circles also conveys constant rotation, mimicking the constant movement of the universe. 

Written by Angela Athnasios

Sources: https://www.amymyersdrawings.com/


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