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New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art, University of Southern Indiana is proud to present Parallel to the Earth featuring paintings by Tennesse artist Mary Laube. Parallel to the Earth will be on view from August 12 through September 16. The exhibition opens in conjunction with New Harmony Second Saturdays on Saturday, August 12 with a public reception from 4 – 6 pm CT. New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art’s open hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 10 am – 5 pm CT.

Laube’s work transforms the concept of identity in the cultural diaspora. Laube sees her paintings as objects, containers that store memory and desire, exercising the right to deny interpretive aid. Laube explores the dynamics of individual identity juxtaposed with broader collective formations of culture. Mary Laube’s art practice looks at museum artifacts, architecture, and land related to historic preservation. Laube reimagines these objects as paintings which, in turn, become artifacts of displacement, reunion, decolonization, memorial, and myth. Laube achieves this by decontextualizing the visual imagery of Korea into a distant abstract language by embracing the pictorial logic of abstract painting that can hold onto seemingly contradictory ideas while remaining whole.

In Parallel to the Earth, we see idealized or romanticized versions of mundane objects. These objects are flattened but dimensional. The use of light and shadows allude to things happening in the periphery. Boundaries become demarcations of what we see and what we imagine of diasporic identities. Laube’s paintings are surrealist and rooted in the idea of collage, acting as both a wall and window, peering in at anecdotal memories to be viewed objectively. The horizon lines form like poetry, a meeting point of earth and sky or table and wall, informing the autonomy we give objects from our socialization of material culture. The objects serve as portraits-anthropomorphized views of loss, loss of culture, loss of memory, or personal loss. Often Laube’s paintings become a way to converse with ancestors by use of metaphors from Korean Shamanism. Laube’s paintings are both a vestige of the past as well as a repertoire of the present, a form of storytelling capable of change.

Mary Laube (born in Seoul, Korea, in 1985) is an Assistant Professor at University of Tennessee, Knoxville. She received her MFA (2012) from The University of Iowa, and her BFA (2009) from Illinois State University. Past exhibitions include the Knoxville Museum of Art, Ortega y Gasset Projects (NYC), VCU Qatar (Doha), Monaco (St Louis), The Spring Break Art Show (NYC), and Coop Gallery (Nashville). Artist residencies include Yaddo, Wassaic Project, the Virginia Center for the Creative Arts, Vermont Studio Center, and Stiwdeo Maelor in Corris, Wales. Past publications include Art Maze Mag, Maake Magazine, and New American Paintings. In 2019, Mary received the Contemporary Visual Art Bronze Award from AHL Foundation. She is a co-founder of the Warp Whistle Project, a collaborative duo with composer Paul Schuette. Together, they make work that merges kinetic stage sets with musical performances.

New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art at University of Southern Indiana promotes discourse about and access to contemporary art in the Southern Indiana region. New Harmony Gallery of Contemporary Art is a proud outreach partner of the University of Southern Indiana.

Photo Credit: Mary Laube, Between Two Palms, 2023, Acrylic on panel, 12 x 12 in.

This exhibition is made possible in part by Arts Council of Southwestern Indiana, and the Indiana Arts Commission, which receives support from the State of Indiana and the National Endowment for the Arts.