Shannon Ebner at Wallspace Gallery

Another recent graduate of the Yale Masters program, and one whose work, I believe is significantly elevated beyond student work, despite her short time out of school. The obvious inspiration for her work is  Edward Ruscha’s  paintings but this work is completely photographic.

Shannon makes actual word signs and places them in landscapes. The words are constructed in the manner of the Hollywood sign, thinly cutout letters each propped up in the landscape. This work is a blend of the concerns of conceptual art traditions and some of the traditions of black and white photography. Ebner is sensitive to the expressive potentials of highlight and shadow and her prints have the rich textures of some of the best landscape photography. Most often, conceptual artists using photography have little concern for or understanding of the expressive aspects of the medium.  But her command of the materials yields images of poetic and conceptual content that are also finely made prints. Additionally, she also works with color materials with equal facility.

The conceptual foundation of this work is perhaps best summarized with the gallery press release.

“Dead Democracy Letters documents temporary landscape installations that briefly lay claim to the urban-pastoral expanses of undeveloped land in and around Los Angeles. Ebner’s Letters offer a critical investigation into social and political injustices; they employ language to address its fallibility in a time of perpetual war when words such as freedom, liberation and democracy are drained of meaning and left corrupted.”

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