Heather Gorham's "Training Day" at Craighead Green Gallery

Heather Gorham's "Training Day"
Heather Gorham's "Training Day"
Courtesy Craighead Green Gallery

You can't help but wonder who it is that's being trained on this particular day. At once fanciful and thought-provoking, Heather Gorham's work, "Training Day," challenges the viewer's expectations.

The sky is mottled and the horizon line drips down. It looks as if you could wipe away the white and reveal blue beneath. If you did, would the scene be a different one? A more predictable and less intriguing one perhaps?

The composition is reminiscent of Diego Velázquez's painting "Las Meninas." The tiny princess looks out at the viewer while her court stands at the ready. The background leaving the viewer to wonder what might lie just beyond it.

Even the tilt of the princess' and the girl's head mirror one another, as do the positioning of the attendants and the dogs respectively. Both examine the power of context. Both exhibit a shift of power from viewer to subject. Who's in charge, the pieces ask.

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The negative space in the top right quadrant of both pieces draws the eye to the central figure. The direct gaze makes it uncomfortable to disengage. We are being examined, and we are being left to consider - What is it that's going through their minds?

You can see "Training Day" at Craighead Green through October 8 as part of a group show with work from Heather Gorham, Jay Maggio, and Arturo Mallmann.

(To see "Las Meninas" in person, you'll have to head to Museo del Prado in Madrid.)

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