With a single line of ink or thread, Camille Hawbaker Voorhees creates captivating pieces of freedom and delicacy, conjuring up mandalas, microcosms, constellations and galaxies that teeter between beauty and chaos.
Hawbaker Voorhees, a 2014 University of Nebraska-Lincoln MFA who now lives in Omaha, fills a room and shares a second Tugboat Gallery, space with the intaglio prints of Keith Buswell in “(as)symmetry,” an exhibition that examines weight and line in drawings and prints.
One of Nebraska’s top young artists -- she took last year’s Omaha Entertainment Award for Best Emerging Artist and has had a solo show at the Museum of Nebraska Art -- Hawbaker Voorhees has, over the last five years, finely honed her examination of text and line, ink, thread and paper to a distinctive individual vision.
The ink pieces, titled “Microcosm” find the line taking on weight, from fine to about one-eighth-inch-wide as it swirls around and dashes back and forth, creating enveloping combinations of circles and spikes that feel organic or, more pertinently, astronomic.
The latter continues with thread on two of her most impressive pieces.
“Constellation,” a black piece of paper and wire on which the thread looks like it is blowing in whisks with small squares of wire and thread attached to the bottom like planets to a star while “Galaxy” continues the space theme, this time with the thread flying over a light blue circle.
Text, which Hawbaker Voorhees has used and manipulated, since the first exhibition that I saw from her in 2014, is smartly incorporated in both support and thread.
The former is found in a pair of small pieces titled “Book of Healing” on which the thread spiraling over printed book pages and both are found in “We Build Walls,” a piece that weaves the thread into a dictionary page and then uses it to create the words “walls in hearts become walls.”
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Text in thread is found in “Love is a Rippling Circle,” a piece at least three feet in diameter that has the word “love” stitched in cursive repeated over and over, tied together in a spiral that goes from over the center of the paper support to spill out onto the wall.
Hawbaker Voorhees’ outstanding work could have stood as an exhibition in and of itself. But her work paired with the prints of non-traditional UNL art student Buswell makes “(as)symmetry” a study in contrasts and technique.
The most obvious of those contrasts are between the abstraction inherent in Hawbaker Voorhies’ lines and the prints that, largely, look at trees and plants, above and below ground.
Technique, of course, contrasts ancient intaglio printmaking, which places ink on an engraved surface, a laborious, highly controlled process, with the “freehand” lines that appear to flow over paper, but in fact are thought out and conceived in layers -- just like the prints.
Buswell, who also has a room for his work, has a wall of small prints, all inside deep wooden frames, primarily backed with printed paper behind the printed images, which are only a few inches on each side.
His most impressive pieces, however, are larger and surrounded by fiber inside the fiber inside the frame. The fibers are very light in some pieces, but in the case of “Melbourne” with its black root, and small plant on a grey surface, are eye-grabbingly stark black.
And, almost humorously, dark green artificial turf surrounds the print of “Hawley,” a depiction of a root angling up out of a green field into a tree that’s against a light ochre that is the best piece in Buswell’s part of the smartly mounted exhibition.