Under Water Outer Space
October 4 – October 30
Closing reception: October 30, 5pm with artist talk to follow at 6pm
Artist Project Statement
In 2014, I was working as an illustrator for a book by biochemist Dr. Ben McFarland. In his book, he describes the ways that our planet has undergone catastrophic events that disrupted the chemical makeup of the surface and allowed biology to begin to thrive:
A chemical called water transformed this planet’s rocks and opened them to give life its elemental building blocks. The energy in the Earth became the energy in simple cells through chemical wheels. Sunlight split the water with the help of dissolved rocks, and the oxygen from that reaction brought yet more elements out of the rocks and into life.
“…there are ‘incisions’ on the Earth made by massive geological processes. Geologists have read these and have concluded that a worldwide event altered the planet’s surface. This geological event was also a chemical event. Soon after, a profusion of fossils filled the rocks.”*
One of the outcomes of this illustration project was inspiration for a new body of work in my studio, in which I imagined the long-view of geological history as a love story, where the final result is the birth of life itself, in all its profusion. My show at G.Gibson Gallery in 2013 was called “The Ether and the Mantle,” named after two spheres (the ether as an upper level of the atmosphere and the mantle as a deep layer of the geosphere) that usually never touch. I found myself, while working on the book project, imagining these elements as longing for one another as living creatures long toward one another and are compelled to reproduce. I began to see the coupling of living creatures, in fact, as a subset of a much larger picture of generation and creation embodied by the Earth itself in a much slower and multifaceted fertility—marked by setbacks and catastrophe—pulsing forward in sudden bursts and then sliding back into quieter periods of stasis. In the work I made for the show, I played with romantic overtures and lovers’ quarrels in relationship to physical geography.
Since that body of work, I have travelled to Iceland, where the interrelationships of air and water and fire and chemistry are blindingly apparent. The smaller works that you see here are a product of that time and meditation. And I have continued to muse about the ecstatic connections between what is out there where stars are even now creating the heavier, rare, more complex elements that make life possible, and here at home on our own mysterious planet where oceans are continuing to enact the same magic they have created for eons in the shaping of a habitable planet. Both vast places are integral to our very own bodies, and both can be overwhelming to our human scale.
*McFarland, Benjamin, A World from Dust: How the Periodic Table Shaped Life, Oxford University Press, 2014
Gala Bent is an artist, mother and educator living in Seattle, Washington. She has a BFA in Painting from Ball State University in Indiana, an MFA in Visual Art from State University of New York (SUNY) at Buffalo, and currently teaches and leads the first year program in the visual arts at Cornish College of the Arts. Drawings on paper, colored with gouache, are her most prevalent medium, but she also works, when possible, with installation, animation and writing. Gala’s work has been shown locally, nationally and internationally, and she is represented by G.Gibson Gallery in Seattle. Over the course of her career, she has also worked as an illustrator and a collaborator with scientists and musicians.