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Power Struggles:

Leveraging Control

The Silber ART Gallery Goucher College Athenaeum

Power Struggles:

Leveraging Control Dustin Carlson Woojin Chang Emily Denlinger Lillian Bayley Hoover

Phyllis Plattner Robby Rackleff Tony Shore Calla Thompson

“Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.”

— Abraham Lincoln

In Power Struggles: Leveraging Control, Dustin Carlson, Woojin Chang, Emily Denlinger, Lillian Bayley Hoover, Phyllis Plattner, Robby Rackleff, Tony Shore, and Calla Thompson explore authority, oppression, and control and study the imbalances of power—whether societal, sexual, political, or economic—found in social hierarchies. Power plays are enacted globally, daily—by governments over citizens, doctors over patients, parents over children, teachers over students, male over female—and the battles between these forces bleed into every area of life. Unfortunately, our culture has become desensitized to the insidious violence of our times, a result of incessant overexposure to violent images and experiences. At times brutal and direct, at others calm, poetic and rich with metaphor, the work of these eight artists is always disruptive, insistent, impossible to ignore. The anxious scenarios depicted within this exhibit attempt to destroy current notions of violence and dismantle the sinister glamorization of power.

Laura Amussen, curator

In his recent work, Dustin Carlson playfully explores the paradox of the American Dream. By using commercial iconography as an altar for consumption, he hopes to inspire emotional and intellectual reflection. Using scale and created environments, he attempts to trigger personal memories and reveal the contradictions between what is desired and what is achieved.


Island, 2011 sheet metal, rubber tubing, nozzeles, and concrete

Woojin Chang is interested in the relationship between social structure and individuals; how our human instincts, cultural customs, and fostered ideas affect one another and come together to form the world as it is. The “–scape” series, as suggested in the name, consists of landscapes. The twist is that while, from a distance, they look like abstract peaks and valleys set against utopian skies, a close view reveals thousands of climbing figures. The human figures, originating from oil stick and crayon drawings on paper, have been scanned and repeated countless times in their digitized form. Lumped together and working toward an unrecognizable goal, they are the embodiment of our desire to exceed and rise above others. It is this endless longing for ascension that becomes the very energy that supports the megastructure of the image, a structure that we’ve formed for ourselves and are engulfed in. Embedded in the image are also hints of hope in the form of ropes, ladders, and balloons; however, they are futile when compared to the weight of the overall picture. The figures, therefore, exist only as part of this paradoxical landscape, from which none can escape because there is nowhere else to go. The only choice left is to carry on, like Sisyphus, forever climbing up the hill, humming to the buzz, however illogical or idiotic the tune may seem. The resulting scene depicts the terror and beauty of our world, the sublime nature of human experience in contemporary society.

-scape: force of gravity, 2011 digital print 106” x 42”


With her photography, Emily Denlinger explores the human condition, frequently focusing on existentialist themes — survival, codependency on others, and subjective emotions. In Ecology, she constructed and photographed vignettes of microcosms. This group of images specifically focuses on feeling powerless and insignificant on our immense planet. These emotions may be brought on by a real or imagined lack of control humans have over their individual lives and the world around them. Unlike previous bodies of work, Denlinger has left the titles sparse and ambiguous, encouraging the viewer to imagine their own narrative.

The Small Axe, 2010 magazine collage, diorama landscaping, wood, digital C-print 30� x 20�


Over the millennia, humans have made a habit of producing grand structures with which to proclaim their power, wealth, status, and knowledge. These structures serve a performative function in that they exert great influence over the behavior of many people. But when the building blocks are viewed up close, the intimidating effect begins to break down. The stone becomes simply a stone. It may even have a few cracks in it or support a growth of mildew. Lillian Bayley Hoover’s Sites of Power attempts to demonstrate this phenomenon further by disregarding real grand buildings as source material, relying instead on photographs of scale models of real grand buildings. In presenting a miniature facsimile, a model tames and disarms the mighty. Painted with a clear reference to their photographic sources, but with severe cropping and awkward perspective, the images are reduced to formal composition, pattern and color, remaining only minimally recognizable. Further erosion occurs as moments of material imperfection are highlighted: cracks in plaster, Astroturf that is curling up from its substrate, water stains on tarmac. In this way, an element of human frailty and disintegration is apparent in the otherwise idyllic model. The paintings’ photographic references suggest a place one could visit, but the high point-of-view is discomfiting, leaving the viewer unsure how to physically relate to the space while navigating the abstract power structures.

Hagia Sofia, 2011 oil on canvas 32” x 32”


Chronicles of War, Phyllis Plattner’s current series of multiple-panel paintings, reflects on the unfathomable and tragic ubiquity of warfare throughout history. At the same time, it examines the equally powerful drive toward harmony, beauty, and peace. All the images in the paintings, whether depictions of violence or peace, are quoted directly from art history and photojournalism—none are Plattner’s own. Rather, Plattner brings them together—hers is the accumulation, the repetition of similar images that takes precedence over any single event or depiction, the juxtaposition of opposing images that presents a disquieting contrast. Each painting’s theme is depicted in the central image and named in the title; the subsidiary images repeat and reflect the theme. In format, the paintings are based loosely on renaissance altarpieces — consisting of multiple panels symmetrically arranged and framed with decorated gold leaf borders — a reference that speaks to the alarming fact that so many wars have been fought in the name of God, under the auspices of religion.

Chronicles of War: Head and Hands, 2009 oil and gold leaf on linen on panel 57” x 45”


Robby Rackleff’s recent video work depicts the age of internet profiles and avatars and the mutated identities we customize to represent ourselves in social-network environments. We attempt to control multiple versions of our digital self at a time. We infuse them with vital information. We edit and delete them. Information is power and each avatar hungers for the power of its twins. Their existence is one of murder and war in a hall of mirrors.

Dark Fortress Occult, Master of Space: Level 4, 2010 still from digital video dimensions variable


Tony Shore’s paintings on black velvet have been influenced by growing up in Southwest Baltimore’s Morrell Park. Coming from a flea-market family, he deeply appreciates things that are overlooked and undervalued. Velvet painting is a medium often written off as kitsch or lowbrow and looked down upon by the art world. But the medium is elevated through Shore’s mastery of technique and through the sincerity, dignity, and honesty with which he approaches his subjects. Shore has a great deal of respect for where he comes from and often depicts scenes from the lives and experiences of his working-class family and friends. His awareness of and sensitivity to social issues regarding the economic struggles among classes are portrayed in Old Master style and bring to mind the works of Goya and Caravaggio. Particular to Baltimore and far too familiar, his paintings of gang violence and street crime are literally and figuratively dark. His subjects and medium intertwine, each with its own value and history.

Tracey Adkins Park, 2007 acrylic on velvet 60” x 42”


Calla Thompson examines contemporary culture through her artwork. She investigates material greed and consumption and the power exchanges in society. By examining moments and situations in which the dichotomy between good and evil collapses, she maps a place where characters have the potential to be simultaneously the “goodie” and the “baddie.”

sketch for Lap, 2011 paint and rhinestones 10’ x 7’


Power Struggles:

Leveraging Control Dustin Carlson Woojin Chang Emily Denlinger Lillian Bayley Hoover

Phyllis Plattner Robby Rackleff Tony Shore Calla Thompson

October 25 – December 4, 2011 (Gallery will be closed November 22-27 for Thanksgiving) artists’ Reception

Friday, November 11, 2011, 6-8 p.m.

The Silber Gallery

Goucher College Athenaeum Directions

Gallery Hours

Baltimore Beltway, I-695, to exit 27A. Make first left onto campus.

11 a.m. to 4 p.m. Tuesday – Sunday. 410.337.6477

The Silber Gallery program is funded with the assistance of grants from the Maryland State Arts Council, an agency funded by the state of Maryland and the NEA, and the Baltimore County Commission on the Arts and Sciences.

12212-J852 10/11

The Silber Gallery is free and open to the public.

Power Struggles  
Power Struggles  

In Power Struggles: Leveraging Control, Dustin Carlson, Woojin Chang, Emily Denlinger, Lillian Bayley Hoover, Phyllis Plattner, Robby Rackle...