‘Unsettled Terrain’ Art Exhibit for Unsettled Times


(photos by Jeff Fulmer)

By Tinete Williams


Two artists came together for an unusual art exhibition titled “Unsettled Terrain” housed at College of Southern Nevada’s Fine Arts Gallery.

Taryn McMahon and Ellie Honl were featured artists in the Gallery from August through September.

“We thought our work would be different enough to create a dialogue, a conversation, but that our work would also be similar enough to work together and add a cohesiveness to the exhibition,” McMahon said. “Ellie and I were both thinking about how our work deals with the uncertainty about the future and different coping mechanisms for how people deal with that uncertainty.”

Inspiration for McMahon’s artwork was from her contemplation of what a future ecology might look like. “What if different plants merge and evolve into new plants or desecrated materials and become a new ecology? What is that going to look like?” She said those questions guide a lot of her work. She takes many photos at botanical gardens as stimuli and creates drawings from them. She might take a plant and recreate it or merge it with something else like a man-made structure. Examples of this were seen at the exhibit at CSN.

mcmahonHonl used inspiration from nature too. Her artwork in “Unsettled Terrain” began by observing a flock of Starling birds while driving. These birds made forms that reminded Honl of a swarm of insects, school of fish or storm clouds. This observation manifested into her art. “The imagery of swarms and mysterious landscapes became a metaphor for the unreliable circumstances of life, while in contrast geometric shelters represent places of safety and rationality. Informed by psychological theories of coping strategies these structures embody the many different ways people cope with turmoil.”

Every summer Jeff Fulmer, CSN’s Department of Fine Arts coordinator, and a committee of fine-arts staff members send out a call for artists over various social-media platforms.

Once reviewed and selected their works will be displayed in the Fine Arts or Artspace Galleries located on CSN’s North Las Vegas campus. Both galleries are intended to provide an educational experience for CSN students and community, according to Fulmer.

Fulmer said last year over 100 proposals were sent in with only 10 open exhibition slots. McMahon and Honl made the cut with their joined proposal.

“The committee responded strongly to Ellie and Taryn’s contemporary interpretation of the traditional artistic medium printmaking as each presented work that included current ideas such as installation and video,” Fulmer said.

“Unsettled Terrain” was scheduled a year in advance. Fulmer communicated with McMahon and Honl primarily through emails while preparing the exhibition as both artists live outside Las Vegas.

Over the course of the year McMahon and Honl crafted some new works that Fulmer was open to, McMahon said, as long as they stayed true to their original proposal.

McMahon and Honl traveled to Las Vegas in September and hosted a gallery talk and artists’ reception. They also made an appearance at a beginning printmaking course on campus.


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