November 2, 2016

it’s all about the little things: repetition in the work of jennifer boe and ron geibel


To coincide with the exhibition, ‘2016VisionMakers’, 108|Contemporary is pleased to publish this essay written by Administration Assistant, Catherine Crain. 

It’s all about the little things: Repetition in the work of Jennifer Boe and Ron Geibel

Jennifer Jan Boe, Missouri, Donut #2, Embroidery on linen, 12″ x 13″, $1,000

The repetition of details- small shapes, lines, and forms within a composition- can be an incredibly powerful tool in art. They act as a surprise for the viewer, something that rewards them for continuing to look after being drawn in by a strong overall composition. Jennifer Boe and Ron Geibel, two artists exhibiting in our current 2016VisionMakers exhibition, use repetition in their works in this way, but they use this strategy to draw audiences into two very different conversations.



Jennifer Jan Boe, Missouri, Donut #4, Embroidery on linen, 12″ x 13″, $1,000

Jennifer Boe, a fiber artist based in Missouri, uses embroidery to create incredibly detailed depictions of a surprising subject matter: food. Donut #2 and Donut #4, what appear to be quite simple designs capture the audience’s attention, and slowly reveal the extensive detail and stitching that led to such a naturalistic image. The detail is immersive, allowing the eye to move around and delve deeper and deeper, revealing how every sprinkle, crumb, bump, and shadow in the donut was created. For Boe, this time-intensive process is an act of meditation, “I see each one of these donuts to be my own strange attempt at drawing an ensō.” The ensō, originating from Zen Buddhism, is a circle created by an artist in an expression of enlightenment when the mind allows the body to create. Just as the act of creation is meditative for the artist, so is the act of viewing for the audience. In Donut #2 the repetition of color and form in each sprinkle guides the eye around the composition, following the yellows and blues and reds around the form, circling the composition in a mesmerizing type of reflection. This hypnotic experience felt by the viewer connects the artist and audience through this shared meditation, with the art acting as the agent uniting the two.



Ron Geibel, Texas, Everything is Perfect, Porcelain, 9” x 4.5” x 4.5”, $1,050

For Ron Geibel, a ceramicist working in Texas, the repeating forms activate the dimensionality of the works to create a statement on public and private life. The two works of Geibel’s in this show, Everything is Perfect and Golden, are covered in small, perfectly even, and organized nodes that wrap across the surface. This strategic design element does a number of things within the work; it both enhances and obscures the form of the sculpture, and links the work to one of Geibel’s primary interests in the idyllic image of American domestic life. The form of these works alludes to sexual references as a continuation of the artist’s interest in pushing the private into the public sphere. These buds work to obscure this reference, and yet formally the rhythm created in them accentuates the dimensionality and encourages the viewer to address the work as a three-dimensional piece. This juxtaposition of highlighting and masking, exaggeration and disorientation, mirror the same tension between representation in public and private that Geibel is so interested in.


Ron Geibel, Texas, Golden, Porcelain, gold luster, 7” x 4.5” x 4.5”, $1,150

For both of these artists, this use of small repeating forms acts as a visual spark— an element that captures a viewer’s attention that pushes their exploration deeper into the work. Using this strategy extremely effectively, both Geibel and Boe communicate their artistic interests by pulling the viewer into conversation with the pieces. The meditation that Boe seeks from the intricate process of embroidery is imbued in the work and gives the same thoughtful and engaging experience through the act of viewing for the audience. The dichotomy that is so present throughout Geibel’s process is also translated through this contortion of perception, the exploration between calling attention to the form, and skewing the original referent, which raises the questions of representation and distortion. Both artists successfully maneuver the primary task of art— establishing a dialogue with audiences, and they do it cleanly and elegantly by this balance of strong form and repetition of details.


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