“Engulfed: Works on Paper by Allison Long Hardy” is an enigmatic exhibit currently in the Rice Gallery at McDaniel College that concludes the 2011 year with a reflective body of art that breaks down a fundamental and personal aspect of daily life: communication. Long Hardy takes these moments of contact and translates them as marks on colorful monotypes. The sensitivity that she has to the various layers of interactions between people is apparent in the layer after layer added to her monotypes, occasionally with the further addition of collage and pencil drawing atop already developed works.
The fact that the biggest inspiration for these detailed-rich prints are face-to-face conversations the artist has had with others makes them automatically intriguing to the viewer. Perhaps they contain universal truths, emotions, and maps of the ups and downs of human communication. For example, suppose you have made your way throughout the gallery and are beginning to comprehend this whole idea of abstract shapes and lines revealing communication and you stumble upon Experiment 2. The mind begins to reel—‘what kind of conversation was this?!’ It may even feel familiar. There are layers of marks that are precise and rhythmic jumbled in with the chaotic, spontaneous lines that are the cotton-swab intuitions of the artist that mirror the precariousness of communication. Most noticeably, the composition is torn in two and stitched back together in the form of a black scar that lies atop all other elements. This sense of brokenness is balanced by the fact that the colors remain upbeat and vibrant against a darker setting—several peach colored orbs stand out the most. The viewer is allowed to reach his or her own interpretation of the works and each monotype offers a surplus of elements to discover.
It is clear that Allison Long Hardy has been successful at translating the countless tiers of communication into clever works of art. In her artist statement she asks the question “Without communication what else do we have?” Even if one does not consciously acknowledge this fact, it is an essential element of life that makes it a fascinating theme to explore. – Hannah Matthews
Rice Gallery, McDaniel College, Westminster, MD