City Pages Reviews Undertow

The multiple visions of Elaine Rutherford and Rebecca Krinke

by Sheila Regan


One day, if Google has its way, we’ll all be wearing glasses that allow us to connect with the internet as we see the world in front of us. That’s still in the design stage, but a look at some of Elaine Rutherford’s work in “Undertow,” an exhibition at Rosalux that also features pieces Rebecca Krinke, could be an example of what to expect this futuristic way of looking at the world to appear: where maps and graphs are juxtaposed with images of the road before us, where segments of bridges allow us to zoom in on details while still seeing the big picture.


There’s a tremendous sense of place in Rutherford’s work, but also of peripheral vision, and the random thoughts and feelings that flit in and out of our consciousness. We may be driving down the road, our eyes set straight ahead at the horizon, but calculations, deliberations, and a sense of where we’ve been before creep into our sightline. This is the case with her oil painting Rupture. In addition to the urban design-esque squiggly lines that disrupt the serene vision of the open road, there’s also enormous, baby-blue moons, cast over with thin streaks of black cloud — that even when doing something so mundane as driving on an empty road, we are haunted still by our dreams.


Another piece by Rutherford called Roads and Bridges, Approach appears to be an optical illusion. In the center there is a structure of some sort, except that the inside of the structure shows a close-up view of a road going under a bridge. The piece goes beyond simple optical illusion, though. Rutherford is mimicking the way we actually experience the world, where what is in front of us is both the actual world and what we choose to focus on, combined with our interpretation of what we see mingled with other thoughts and feelings that may or may not be related to what we are visually inputting.


Krinke’s work shares Rutherford’s exploration of hidden thoughts and feelings, although in her case they are more deliberately put away, in some cases locked away in caged drawers, mounted on the wall. Like Rutherford, Krinke explores the subconscious. What is that mermaid looking thing doing on top of the chest of drawers? Oh, it’s just our dreams entering our memories, or vice versa.


There’s an interactive quality to several of Krinke’s pieces, where visitors can sit at an old fashioned looking desk and peruse her notebook, for example. Mostly, there’s a “What the…?” quality to her work, as ordinary objects mutate into the stuff of nightmares, like the wardrobe that has been transformed into something much more sinister.


Sheila Regan, January 18, 2013