Tucked in a corner of the third floor of the Summit Artspace building are two Box galleries, as they have been named, that are used by the Artists of Rubber City. The larger, or Big Box, is about 20 x 20, while the smaller, or Little Box, is a windowless 8 x 8 chamber approximately.
Often Artists of Rubber City has companion exhibits for the displays in the main gallery rooms on the first floor that are put up for Summit Artspace, a Knight Arts grantee. At other times the room is given over to members who are taking turns showing off their considerable talents.
The smaller space hardly seems the place where you might find the most interesting art, but it was when I recently happened in and looked through the pieces being exhibited by the Artists of Rubber City for artist Emily Meister.
Meister posted a broadside outside the room as explanation for her approach to her pieces. Titled “Nothing by Mouth,” the artist tells of her peculiar and vital problem with foodstuff. Meister had once had severe enough idiopathic pancreatitis that she had to swear off food because, as she put it, it became as much poison as nourishment to her body.
As a result, she turns smashed fruit, spices and grains into art, as can be seen in her work “Broken Raspberry,” which is set in paper and wax.
The medium serves for other inspirations, like a double take on coffee and ground coffee beans, finding in them considerable color and texture that can appear like acrylic paint. But it’s not.
Similarly, she takes splashes of liquids that are usually associated with health and physical activity, but if overdone or absorbed into the wrong person, can cause problems. In one sample Meister has Gatorade spilled onto paper, with synthetic resin and wax.
Her display is a great artistic reuse of materials and also an interesting take on the materials used to create art. Normally when I think of food as art the images that come are of sculpted radishes, apples and the like (edible art as it were), or highly stylized photographs or paintings as still life renderings. Artists use all sorts of materials and liquids to add to paints for texture, color, luminosity. Meister keeps it simple and interesting.
Meister is one of few artists or curators who provide explanation for the display being seen, and her efforts are much appreciated. It’s always helpful when those associated with exhibits provide descriptive promotional literature as lures for the public or informational handouts for those who stumble across their displays.
Emily Meister’s “Nothing by Mouth” is on display through September 16 in the Little Box gallery of Summit Artspace, 140 E. Market St., Akron; 330-865-7352; www.artistsofrubbercity.org. Gallery hours are Thursday 12-9 p.m. and Friday-Saturday, 12-5 p.m. Admission is free.