You can’t make either life or art, you have to work in the hole in between, which is undefined. That’s what makes the adventure [.]
Undefined does not equate to uncertainty. It is unspecified, unclear, and imprecise but it does not mean there is not a specific, clear, or precise direction. It is a place of transition, moving toward a future filled with the unknown and unexpected.
For each of the artists “Undefined” takes on a different meaning, connecting through threads of commonality. There are underlying themes of uncomfortable conversations pertaining to the human condition in each work. John Sharvin’s work depicts themes of nostalgia and childhood wonder, through his use of miniatures, drawing the viewer to explore other worlds and escape into new universes. Minhi England’s work illustrates the evolving perceptions encountered in grief and mourning; mirrors, distorted and multiplied within a warm domestic setting, encourage facing the inevitable encounter to loss with compassion. John Moran’s mixed media installation explores the blurred lines between perception and our social media driven reality, through layering classical motifs and contemporary ideas that celebrate the absurdity of existence.
In 2021, John Moran, Minhi England, and John Sharvin were gathered in a backstage production set with seven other familiar faces. Each participant was invited to compete hoping to find new opportunities and to open creative pathways into new beginnings. Five weeks later, these three were the remaining finalists in the hit Netflix competition series, “Blown Away,” Season 3. Though John, John and Minhi initially came together as competitors, their shared experiences on the show influenced comradery and mutual support. Since the premiere of the series, they have stayed in touch artistically through Pittsburgh Glass Center’s Artist Residency program, giving them an opportunity to collaborate as artists. This collaborative exhibition contradicts the notion of competition in the glass world.
”I didn’t feel like a giant. I felt very, very small.” - Neil Armstrong
Outer space is a mysterious place, full of wonder and endless possibility. It has always been a place of escapism for me to explore my imagination and creativity. The vastness and mystery of the universe taunts me both with fear and wonder. I struggle with the unknown and endless possibilities of life, paralleling the key things I find so fascinating about the cosmos. There is still so much to be discovered in space which is one aspect that is so alluring. It's easy to get lost in the nothingness while simultaneously being overwhelmed with the infinite possibilities. The simple fact that we really do not know what is going on out there is astounding. My logical brain is always looking to make sense of the world and I get anxious and frustrated when there isn't an answer. Sometimes decisions don't have a correct answer. I am constantly investigating the nuances of what makes our world tick. These miniature worlds help me cope with that anxiety and bridge the gap between my love of outer space and my fear of the unknown. They provide me with an escape from reality while also helping me understand my identity and purpose in this world. The stars and planets represent more than just a night sky. They are part of a whimsical world, full of curiosity. Each planet is born from my personal life but are left without conclusion. This creates an atmosphere for the audience to investigate and discover, sparking inner childhood curiosity. Exploration into these worlds allows the viewer a glimpse into my own internal universe.
“Pathways” is inspired by the photography of my late Grandfather, Carl Hartup. We never discussed our mutual interest in art, yet I have an urge to collaborate with him. After he passed, I went through his portfolio discovering works I had never seen before. One photo in particular sparked my curiosity. The image depicts a vivid cascade of doors lining a street with a solitary person walking alongside them. I also located the negative of this image and many others. The negatives, which were all manually edited, gave me a chance to discover more of Carl’s process and helped me see more possibilities of how to collaborate with him.
The pathways we choose to take in our lives are normally uncertain. Every large decision we make in our lives is a culmination of our past experiences. Our recognised selves are dictated by the lives we have already lived and are the echo of who we want to be. Sometimes when making large life decisions it's easy to become focused on the “what if”, and forget about what has gotten us to this point. Failure is typically the culprit for choosing to take the more challenging path. Most of our learning though, is accomplished through failure, without it we wouldn’t be able to grow as vibrantly.
These works all address the uneasiness of transitions with the curiosity of exploration. Where do the doors lead? Possibly into another dimension or universe. Choose your path and commit to it. Embrace the unknown and the inevitable failures that come with it.