Whitehot Magazine

Whitehot Recommends: Michael Scoggins: Goose at Laney Contemporary

Worst Summer Ever! (2023), 2023, artist crayon, graphite, colored pencil on hand cut paper, 41 x 51 in

Michael Scoggins: Goose

Laney Contemporary

September 1 through October 28, 2023 

By WM September 8, 2023

From the press release:

Laney Contemporary is pleased to present Goose, the gallery’s first solo exhibition with New York-based artist Michael Scoggins whose signature style adopts the youthful alter-ego Michael S. as an autograph for large-scale drawings in the form of a monumental, hand-written notebook page. A note can be both casual and layered with heartbreak and humor. Its disarming ephemerality packs an unexpected punch with shifts in scale that can transform the insignificant into the unforgettable. In a casual note, a clipped phrase or a torn page may carry heavy weight as Scoggins uses the graphite of the pencil to point us toward complex and often shared experiences including the inseparability between joy and grief. 

A hand-written note may be scribbled on a piece of scrap paper or carefully composed, but in Scoggins’ work every line, hole, tear, and image is carefully composed with each word or image drawn on the surface loaded with visual and meaningful intention. The works in Goose remind us of the powerful presence and importance of every day. A note is a single slice of thought transferred from one person to another or from one person to the world. Scoggins’ rearticulated large-scale version of the note reminds us that paper is personal. Intimate. Shared.

With a multilayered studio process, “drawings or paintings, sometimes become sculptures,” as Scoggins refers to them interchangeably. Each hole is carefully carved; each line is hand drawn using colored pencil and eraser, going over and over the lines, hand-producing the mass-produced paper. The cuts, folds, tears, bends, and smudges all become a part of the image as each is mounted on the wall, creating three-dimensionality through shadows and the play of light. The gallery’s mirror space culminates with a large-scale installation transforming the 2D into the 3D as paper airplanes fly in multiplication suspended from the ceiling. They merge drawing and sculpture in the act of delivering their messages from person to person, emotion and joy embodied, dispatched, and shared in ways that we might not expect. 

The works included in Goose often approach challenging, or grief-filled situations and yet they are in contact with how humor and a lightness of being necessitate healthy responses. This past spring, Michael and Alex’s daughter, Scout, whom they lovingly call Goose, was diagnosed with a rare genetic disorder called Attenuated MPS 1. The diagnosis has upended every aspect of their lives. Scout’s current treatment regimen is an Enzyme Replacement Therapy (ERT) which she will undergo weekly for the rest of her life or until advancement in treatments become available. Several of the works in the exhibition are numbered in the upper corner. Each signifies a sequence number for Scout’s treatments, all of which occurred on Tuesdays. The passage of time is made tangible with each number, each drawing, each page, love notes marking a life journey.

Art has historically granted a chance by to see, hear, or feel another person’s pain or joy, protest or private reflection. It can also share, inform, and advocate. Like a portal, a letter or a sketch, a work of art can grant an opening into someone’s world, strengthening unseen bonds between artist and viewer; the bonds that grant us our humanity.

For more information on MPS please visit www.mpssociety.org. WM 


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