Leigh Ann Hallberg

Winston-Salem, NC

I began daily drawing as a ritual which I conflated with my daily breakfast routine and became fascinated with the standard, translucent cereal bag- what it allowed through (varying degrees of light) and what it kept out (e.g. moisture, but also absolute visual clarity). The drawings developed into a series of more than eighty, exploring the nature of perception.

As Jay Curley has written:

These are exercises in perception, a daily dose of de-familiarizing a plastic bag. These serialized (or cerealized?) images call attention to the wonderous processes of representation: how is it that a collection of diverse marks signify anything at all? Is any single drawing any more a cereal bag than another?

And let me reiterate the strangeness of Hallberg’s diverse renditions. The cereal bag is a banal readymade, but in some of these agile drawings it is also transformed into something completely foreign. A hollow skeleton of sparse contours. A robust collection of voluminous strokes. An uncannily organic orifice worthy of Eva Hesse. Presented in an overwhelming wave of visual information, with all these shifts in strategy and medium… these works show the diversity and contingency of daily perception. If the morning ritual can defamiliarize a known object, then we need to think about the importance of close looking for an already impossibly complex visual world.

I happened to see a copy of Audubon’s “Birds of America” at this time and it struck me that my attempt to understand perception through the cereal bags had a certain resonance with Audubon’s chronicling of birds. “Bags of America” references Audubon’s beautiful work in its size and sampling while also noting the banality of much of our everyday existence through the ubiquitous cereal bag.

Leigh Ann Hallberg is an artist and Lecturer in Art at Wake Forest University. Her drawings incorporate the recurring themes of semi-permeable membranes (what is let in and what is kept out), human perception (its marvels and insufficiencies), and the visual as a means for a more comprehensive understanding of experience. Drawing, as a direct means of expression, is frequently the medium she chooses to investigate these ideas.

Hallberg’s work has been exhibited throughout the United States, and internationally in Germany and Italy. She received a BA in Art from Mount Union College and her MFA from the University of Colorado at Boulder. She teaches drawing and studio fundamentals at Wake Forest.

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