Color Coding with Katie Murken’s Continua

Continua, a new installation by Katie Murken at Gallery 2J, displays the artist’s enormous sensitivity to and love for color. Twenty-four columns made of colorful stacks of phone books form a life-size color wheel. Through Continua, Katie Murken reaffirms color as a vital, autonomous field, ripe with possibility.

The octagonal wall structure that Katie Murken has built as the backbone for her installation gently envelops viewers in a self-contained space. Here we not only can see color in its raw, distilled columnar form, but also seem to be able to feel and hear it. The intervals of twenty-four columns around the white gallery wall seem musical, like a horizontally moving scale lining the room. The variation of color within each spectrum, determined partly by chance and partly by probability, moves up and down the columns like chord progressions.

Talking through it, Katie explained that each column is based on a ‘chord’ made up of two complementary colors and one additional color. She rolls a pair of dice to determine the other twenty-four colors per column, each number rolled determining the degree shift of the next color from the previous one. Turning around the full perimeter of the columns, we witness yellow turn into green into teals, blues, and plums. On the opposite wall, burgundy turns into browns, brick reds, salmons, oranges. As our eyes drink in this rich, chromatic variety, we become aware of nuances within individual columns. Certain layers are striated, some seem more densely packed with die, others more warped and wrinkled. This variation deepens the sensual impact of the piece, making it feel emphatically handmade. It renews a sense of the organic nature of color in the midst of a world that deals more and more with neat digital swatches of color viewed on a computer screen.

The use of phonebooks as the raw material for Continua is also worth noting. Often overlooked or seen as irrelevant or inconsequential, these books are vestiges of an analog society in which every house and business could be referenced in a single, widely distributed text. The books are closed, the names and words and numbers sealed away within the columns of color. This highlights the place of color as an elemental, all encompassing part of the visible material world.

The back of the project space houses a series of prints that documents the process of choosing the colors for each column of Continua. Murken’s process is impeccably systematic and methodical, like the prints themselves, which map out probability charts, color diagrams, and excel spreadsheets of die quantity and location. It was a striking transition to go from the explosion of visceral, sensual color in the front of the gallery to the back area with its methodical probability, calculation, and charts. For me, the net result was that the concept of ‘spectrum’ became more physical than ever before when I stood in the middle of the columns. From this vantage point of pure, sensual experience, I understood more about color and its raw potential than from reading texts about color theory or the physics of electromagnetic spectra. In a way, Continua is a wonderful show about the act of making art; it strips away all of the specific ways in which we use color as painters, sculptors, video artists etc., allowing us to reflect on its inherent potential.

Eric Toscano's work is the result of an instinctual reaction to materials through using appropriated images, found objects, and nontraditional media juxtaposed in a way that resonate an ongoing inner dialogue.
Eric Toscano
Eric Toscano

Eric Toscano's work is the result of an instinctual reaction to materials through using appropriated images, found objects,…

Eric Toscano's work is the result of an instinctual reaction to materials through using appropriated images, found objects, and nontraditional media juxtaposed in a way that resonate an ongoing inner…

Eric Toscano's work is the result of an instinctual reaction to materials through using appropriated images, found objects, and nontraditional media juxtaposed in a way that resonate an ongoing inner dialogue.…

Jennifer Baker is a visual artist working in varied media including: painting, monotype, sculpture, and installation. Her images of Northern Liberties document the changes in that Philadelphia neighborhood over a period of 30 years, from the fires and the wrecking balls of the 1980s and 90s to the runaway construction of the 2000s. Other images explore the central Pennsylvania town of Centralia where an underground fire has burned in a coal seam for over 50 years. These pieces have a roughness and immediacy in their execution that matches their subject matter. Her life size sculptures and installation pieces show another side of her interests, and most recently she has been working on a series of drawings documenting her life in the time of coronavirus. All of these pieces have in common an interest in narrative and a sense of place and memory.
Jennifer Baker
Jennifer Baker

Jennifer Baker is a visual artist working in varied media including: painting, monotype, sculpture, and installation. Her…

Jennifer Baker is a visual artist working in varied media including: painting, monotype, sculpture, and installation. Her images of Northern Liberties document the changes in that Philadelphia neighborhood…

Jennifer Baker is a visual artist working in varied media including: painting, monotype, sculpture, and installation. Her images of Northern Liberties document the changes in that Philadelphia neighborhood over a period of…

My paintings are a personal exploration of mood, essence and mystery.  I strive to find the spirit of a subject and immerse myself in the experience of painting, never quite knowing where it may take me or what the outcome may be. Sometimes my struggles while paining a subject may lead to failure, and if I still have a strong conviction about my feeling for  the subject, I start again on a fresh canvas or panel and get what I want. I love oil paint and it has never lost its magic or made me want to change to a different medium.  The lusciousness,  luminosity and expressive nature of paint, how a gesture or mark can be beautiful in itself and at the same time form part of an image is why I keep on painting and drawing...
Helene Halstuch
Helene Halstuch

My paintings are a personal exploration of mood, essence and mystery. I strive to find the spirit of a subject and immerse…

My paintings are a personal exploration of mood, essence and mystery. I strive to find the spirit of a subject and immerse myself in the experience of painting, never quite knowing where it may take me…

My paintings are a personal exploration of mood, essence and mystery. I strive to find the spirit of a subject and immerse myself in the experience of painting, never quite knowing where it may take me or what the outcome…

Austen Camille
Austen Camille
My primary medium is paper collage. I have explored many subjects over the years creating my own distinctive materials and searching for innovative ways to express each visual theme.
Florence Weisz
Florence Weisz

My primary medium is paper collage. I have explored many subjects over the years creating my own distinctive materials and…

My primary medium is paper collage. I have explored many subjects over the years creating my own distinctive materials and searching for innovative ways to express each visual theme. …

My primary medium is paper collage. I have explored many subjects over the years creating my own distinctive materials and searching for innovative ways to express each visual theme. …

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