event horizon’ is a whimsical look at environmental collapse

Year without a summer”

It’s understandable for an artist living in the Southwest to become preoccupied with the weather. Seasonal shifts are complex and barely perceptible, and prolonged residence can tease out a morbid attraction to extreme climate patterns found in other geographies—snow, tornadoes, floods. More urgently, the threat of drought and the realities of global warming are a constant companion. Weather patterns can be serious, highly political subject matter. But Las Vegas artist Andreana Donahue’s getting close to the event horizon is everything environmental collapse shouldn’t be: demure, funny, subtle and wry.

The Details

getting close to the event horizon
four stars
Through March 19
Winchester Cultural Center Gallery, 455-7340

Four deceptively simple pieces combine to form a layered and thoughtful installation with genuine personality. A shy bit of grass sits meekly in the corner, its center yellowing from lack of water. A gutsy little iceberg floats in the middle of the room, framed by a cascading vista of undulating paper. Radiant wall flowers bashfully tease from their privileged perspective.

Each piece is hand-constructed from paper, and the level of attention can be breathtaking. In “shrinking to zero size,” a cluster of iridescent crystalline snowflakes burst into tiny rainbow cut-outs. The hilariously dejected “lawn fail” appears to be a patch of Astroturf, but closer inspection reveals a lush carpet of individually cut paper blades. The layered paper glacier of “year without a summer” is a bit problematic in terms of construction and seems the least resolved of the four, but nevertheless pays nice homage to Gordon Matta-Clark.

“When matter meets antimatter” dominates the space, an epic structure made entirely of billowing sheets of white paper that beautifully maximizes the curving north wall of the Winchester Cultural Center’s gallery.

The press release sparingly describes the exhibition as a “cut paper installation relating to forms found in non-desert landscapes,” but the titles of the work suggest a more sinister subtext and a sobering association to environmental crises and end-of-world narratives.

Terms like “zero size” and “antimatter” divulge Donahue’s earnest interest in physics while revealing the intellectual framework that informs the physical structure of the objects. The work is decorative by rational design.

Paper as a medium is often super clean and in this case sweetly modest, and getting close wisely uses these properties to expertly engage the viewer. The exhibition is exceptionally pretty but unwaveringly direct. This, combined with the artist’s use of humor, becomes an important point of entry into ideas that can be startling, frightening and cold.

The term “event horizon” is often used to describe a black hole, the point at which it is impossible to escape a collapsed star’s gravitational pull. Getting close to the event horizon creates a most beguiling set of circumstances for whiling away the hours as time slowly decelerates until we meet our inevitable fate.


Danielle Kelly

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