June 07, 2019 to July 27, 2019
122 W Sixth Street
Bloomington - 47404 IN
Walking through Leigh Merrill's exhibit is something like wandering around in a film set. The scenes feel almost real, but somehow not quite right. They are, in fact, constructed realities, expertly assembled from multiple sources. Merrill is the invisible producer, directing as if from the sky. She controls every detail, the pastel blocks of color, the very direction and quality of the light. She tinkers with the real world, seamlessly plucking elements from one place and depositing them elsewhere until the pictures are both familiar and placeless.
There are two distinct sets of images in the exhibit. The works move abruptly from the concrete realm of the architectural imagery, to large-scale prints that are a jungle of greenery. There's no real space for humans in either set of images. In one world, she's paved us out of the picture. In the other, we're crowded out by plants.
Merrill offers a dose of nostalgia, but it is mixed with a sense of foreboding. Windows are papered, sidewalks erased, and viewers are often confronted by walls or impassable foliage. The images play to our appetite for nostalgia, for old signs, streetlights, diners, and elements of the past that we look at with longing. Along with the lure of color, the satisfying hidden details, and the artificially perfect space, there's also a hint of something apocalyptic. This Place is one possible picture of the earth after humans. Perhaps it first looks like concrete remains, and then, eventually goes back to the Garden.