Bold, quasi-pastel tones confuse the structures they lie upon,
barely wrapping up their odd angles and moments of queer intersection.
Surfaces, walls, and the occasional stray object go on way too long or are off in another slightly undiscernible manner.
Textures and patterns seem too perfect, alleys impossibly ramble about nearby.
There’s a lingering emptiness to the scenes presented; assembled stages stuck on pause while waiting for actors and crew to return to set.
Our eyes rummage about looking for clues of conception, all the while being caught up in the “realness” of the perceived image.
As an artist working primarily with photography—and to a lesser degree, video—Leigh Merrill plays off the expectations of the viewer in order to lure us in to look closer.
By doing so, the artist slyly exposes her constructed spaces as falsely poetic, congested leftovers of ramshackle storefronts and confused non-places.
These images are made by amassing hundreds of photographs from several locations,
forming a vocabulary of locales deftly joined together with Photoshop©
by following compositional linear cues and inventive architectural repetition in a landscape format.
Merrill fuses these elements together with a skewed, Southwestern palette gone awry and an uncanny eye for the horror vacui of the quintessential American retail experience.
In Blue Crush (2016), four separate horizontal images combine to make a seamless,
panoramic facade with elements often repeated in each.
Bold blank signage, rhythmic fencing, and windows are painted in large swathes of retiree hues, foregrounded by empty asphalt parking spots.
A dead sky looms overhead, only to be punctuated by stretched power lines, periscoping gutters, craning lampposts, and the lone, wooden utility pole.
This is the straightforward photographic eye of early Ruscha, coupled with the anxiety and dread of our collective, empty-consumerist nightmares.
Countering the construction of the idle, uninhabited spaces patched together by Merrill are the dense, impenetrable walls of foliage in her Botanicals series.
Amid the mismatched quilts of shrubs, plants, and flowers lie the seams conjoining improbable shadows, affixing contrast or albinism within or throwing profiles of contrast into arcing compositional elements.
Sometimes, at the bottom edge, the back of a traditional sofa and chair will appear, or a piece of patio furniture.
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