Meagan Streader

A sculptor of light and space, Meagan Streader illuminates the utilitarian in her latest solo exhibition, ‘Silent Structures’ at MARS Gallery in Melbourne. Colour and light become Streader’s unique rhetoric, as she investigates their effect on architectural, corporeal and phenomenological space in her new series.

The fluorescent tubes in her sculptures are arranged in a dancing dialogue, at times parallel as in Refract (2019), other times, at the precipice of intersection, as in Revere (2019) or intertwined as in Relink (2019). Their clandestine meetings are screened by coloured glass which acts as a partition, so that they are simultaneously revealed but also obscured.

Visitors are denied access to their alluring interiority, hypnotised by the ambiguous sense of depth behind the textured glass. By doing so, Streader subverts the window’s original function to let light in, and refract coloured fragments outwards. Instead, what should be contained within spills outwards in the form of familiar bright fluorescent tubes. The polychrome ambers, rose-tints, and emeralds of Streader’s glass are reminiscent of shopfront windows, colour found and appropriated from the quotidian, to the theological and ecclesiastical in the stained-glass windows of churches.

Specifically, Streader takes inspiration from Frank Lloyd Wright and his stained glass Art Deco windows and his use of geometry and colour. She recognises the importance of figures like Lloyd Wright and other such precedents, influenced by the works of Fred Sandback, Dan Flavin and Robert Irwin that Streader saw during a residency in New York in 2016.

She describes New York as an ‘incredible city of neon and Art Deco architecture’. The effect of these influences is clear to see in her precise, symmetrical arrangements. Streader’s focus on formalism and materiality marks a shift from her previous spatial, site-specific installations to ‘a more considered approach to light components and materials’.

However, she continues to espouse the power of ‘materials (in) respond (ing) to surrounding architecture and viewers present.’ Indeed, Streader’s work with glass is a response to the architecture of MARS Gallery itself which is essentially constructed from glass walls.

As she observes, ‘The window has been used widely in art history, considered as a metaphor for hope … a silent opening to the unknown. Glass makes links to fragility, architecture and history.’

In Streader’s sculptures, everyday materials are captured in moments of alchemic transformation. By manipulating the mundane, she heightens our awareness of the windows, of otherworldly portals, that surround us.

Meagan Structures | Silent Structures
7 November – 7 December 2019
MARS Gallery, Melbourne

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