Joan Hall’s Marginal Waters at Bruno David Gallery

I met Joan Hall in the alley outside her St. Louis studio. She was preparing for field work at the Louisiana coastline and described the landscape, the locals, and her plans to make paper on site for her show Marginal Waters.

Two months later, Marginal Waters opened at Bruno David Gallery. As the title suggests, the mixed-media prints showcase her fascination with the ocean and the broad ethical issues surrounding it. Spilling into several rooms, there are three distinct works or series of works: a grandiose slab of etched steel littered with paper and detritus, net-like wall pieces in the largest gallery, and the cast paper pieces made on site at Johnson’s Bayou and Grand Isle.

Hello Sailor, Paper, etched steel, detritus, 144 L x 168 W x 16 H inches

Human debris–plastic, gloves, rope, nets–is found throughout the show, and the resulting imagery hovers between decay and hauntingly meticulous collections. Ropes glint in the light. Bits of cast paper resemble ocean sponges. Waxy surfaces are juxtaposed with opaque, blue-green imprints of nets. Handmade paper is rippled, warped, squeezed and wave-like, fibrous and dense, or thin like a veil. Surfaces are dotted with sand: discolored, luminous and striated. Something bittersweet is revealed about the materials in this tension.

Ghost Fishing, Paper, resin, Mylar, 57 x 91 x 9 inches

Drift Net, Paper, resin, Mylar, detritus, glass beads, 64 x 87 x 15 inches

Dying Ocean, Paper, resin, Mylar, acrylic, found plastic, detritus, 64 x 245 x 17 inches

Detail of Dying Ocean

Your Existence is Not Unlike My Own (left) and Acid Ocean (right)

Detail of Acid Ocean, Paper, resin, Mylar, acrylic, 84 x 136 x 17 inches

Detail of Acid Ocean

The Johnson’s Bayou and Grand Isle cast paper pieces were created on site, fusing paper pulp with materials washed up on shore. Some appear blackened by oil and are entwined with caution tape, gloves, bits of broken glass and plastic. Rusty metal frames house the pieces–like cabinets of curiosity or archival repositories–and make them documentary. These fragments of humanity, cast-aside to the land and water, are invisible by nature of their ubiquity. In Hall’s new work, marginalized beaches and their pollution are made visible.

Grande Isle series (Installation view) 109 x 179 x 4-1/2 inches

GI-18 (Grande Isle series), Paper, resin, Mylar, detritus, 20-3/16 x 28-3/16 x 2-1/2 inches

Johnson’s Bayou series, (Installation view), 124 x 142 x 4-1/2 inches

JB-10 (Johnson’s Bayou series), Paper, resin, Mylar, detritus, 19-3/16 x 27-3/16 x 3-1/2 inches

The exhibition is open at Bruno David Gallery until October 13th.

Images courtesy of Bruno David Gallery.

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Categories: Exhibitions

One Response to “Joan Hall’s Marginal Waters at Bruno David Gallery”

  1. This was a great show, thanks for sharing and introducing me to BDG!