Susan Meyer is one of those rare artists whose focus is almost exclusively on large-scale environments steeped in both general and extremely specic historic reference points. Her conceptual emphasis on utopian ideals has been building in complexity over time as she has experimented with the interface of technology and traditional sculpture materials, as well as a dash of new-media.
Meyer first began to shift her body of work towards a long-range emphasis on utopian societies and their machinations with the 2005 installation “Nude-topia,” presented at the Museum of Contemporary Art Denver for that year’s “Biennial Blowout.” Striated platforms resembling topographic forms, made from hand-cut plywood, rose from the ground in groupings that suggest model utopian landscapes. What Meyer regards as “ill-conceived attempts at perfection” are concepts that surrender quite tragically to universal defeat. Meyer continued to press the context of these egregious attempts as well as her material approach with “the enterprise,” a dark-mass of cut-acrylic platforms that suggested capitalist initiatives intent on bringing condence into the collective consciousness.
2008’s “Together” followed by alluding to a thoroughly more futuristic society in multi-colored laser-cut acrylics, first presented during here residency at the Redux Contemporary Art Center in South Carolina, which was also noted that year in the New York Times. Grounding each of Meyer’s installations were new media components such as a video excerpt from George Lucas’ “THX 1138,” soundtracks from early sci-fi classics like “Forbidden Planet,” as well as loads and loads of super-tiny nude gures in often promiscuous positions, individually made from H-O scale model parts.
In-between the sprawling structures and hanging orbs of “Together” and her latest “Plato’s Retreat,” Meyer started to compact her cut-acrylic installation initiatives into stand-alone sculptural works, ones that are captivating in their color and beauty, with the expanded ability to reect light through the properties of translucent acrylics. These freestanding works are impressive not only in the largely cylindrical forms that they take, but in the sheer complexity of the cavities within that are realized through uniquely designed individual layers. Those works have been exhibited over the last three years at Plus Gallery as well as the Foothills Art Center’s “Colorado Art Open” (Chistopher Heinrich / Michael Chavez, Jurors), “DENMI” Denver/Miami Artist exchange and Art Slant’s Miami Art Fair invitational, where Meyer was chosen as the national publications Juried Winner in Round #5 of their Showcase Series.
Meyer’s 2012 solo exhibition “Plato’s Retreat” featured both exciting new sculptural works and short videos. Central to this body of work is a looming concrete warren of a structure, at once architectural model and dilapidated ruin. Meyer’s works strive to realize sparkling futuristic architectonic utopias, with small details suggestive of discontent. “Plato’s Retreat” seems to revisit these same environments, after the deluge, to find them sparsely inhabited, overbuilt, abandoned and overgrown – still functioning, though in a manner that seems to favor the individual over the collective.
Brutalist architecture and Corbusier’s machines for living are inuences, as much for their mixed public reception as their harsh beauty. Also referenced is “Hotel Palenque,” Robert Smithson’s 1972 slide lecture to the architecture faculty at the University of Utah; having visited Mexico to see the Mayan ruins at Palenque, Smithson gave a talk instead on the mundane yet beautiful ruin of a hotel in which he stayed. The metaphoric implications of this ramshackle, labyrinthian hotel, simultaneously in renovation and decay, haunt “Plato’s Retreat.”