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“Concrete Ocean” On Display At Gordon Art Galleries

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Ash F.J. Thomas
“Concrete Ocean” by Leigh Merrill is on display at the Gordon Art Galleries.

The Gordon Art Gallery is hosting a gallery of photographic artwork by artist Leigh Merrill. “Concrete Ocean” is a collection of abstract works of art constructed from photographs depicting modern landscapes.

 

“Working primarily with photography, I create digitally collaged photographic and video works,” reads a display in the gallery bearing Merrill’s words.

 

Leigh Merrill is a Texas-based artist, where she is an art professor at Texas A&M University- Commerce. Her works are featured in many local collections in Dallas, Texas. Digital collages like the ones in Gordon are her signature work.

 

“Two Cars” by Leigh Merrill on display at the Gordon Art Galleries. (Ash F.J. Thomas)

Merrill’s displayed works tend toward blue, red, black, or gray color schemes. The works are constructed around simple things found in everyday life: a lawn chair, a brick wall, a warehouse; and simple names like “Blue,” “Two Cars,” and “Garden Chair.” Most of these works were created in 2019 and 2020. Some were included in previous installations of Merrill’s works, such as “Latent Architecture” in 2020.

 

“Concrete Ocean,” the eponymous work, was created in 2023. It is a blue and gray image of objects covered in a white tarp and secured with orange tape with a sign reading “ocean” above it spelled in orange and pink letters. 

 

The mix of blue and orange stands out due to Merrill’s other works utilizing more understated color schemes. Her previous blue works included small splashes of light orange shades. The bright orange duct tape shown in “Concrete Ocean” in no way dominates the work, but its bright color left an impression on me.

 

“Boxes, Warehouse” by Leigh Merrill on display at the Gordon Art Galleries. (Ash F.J. Thomas)

Looking at these dream-like artworks evokes a sense of thoughtfulness, highlights the concept of the contemporary landscape, and encourages one to view the mundane things in life with a new perspective. Her collages are constructed in a way that makes them believable, as if Merrill actually found pale pink warehouses for “Boxes, Warehouse.”

 

For me, looking at “Concrete Ocean” and seeing a creased white tarp held in place with orange tape arranged with an artistic blue background made me think about how interesting it was that Merrill could turn a seemingly unpleasing image into something that captured my eye. Blue and orange also made a surprisingly complementary pair of colors. 

 

This principle holds true for the rest of Merrill’s work, where she turns stacked crates and parked cars into the subjects of her seamlessly-constructed collages. People might scoff at contemporary landscapes in favor of natural landscapes, but she sees the artistic potential of these man-made objects and locations. She doesn’t shy away from imperfect streets or textured walls, instead incorporating them into the collages.

 

“Concrete Ocean” and the rest of Merrill’s works will be displayed at the Gordon Art Gallery until Feb. 17. The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday.

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About the Contributor
Ash F.J. Thomas, Arts and Entertainment Editor
Ash F.J. Thomas is an English major working as the Arts & Entertainment Editor. Ash likes to review the many artistic events and exhibitions at ODU and the general Norfolk area. Outside of the Mace & Crown, Ash is passionate about creative writing, theater, and gaming.

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