October 9, 2019

Painter and Photographer Explore “Skeptical Realism”

“PLATE TO PLATELET X”: The works of painter Mia Brownell, seen here, and photographer Martin Kruck are featured in “Skeptical Realism,” on view at the Hunterdon Art Museum through January 5.

A painter and a photographer who manipulate artistic traditions to explore reality through a skeptical lens are featured in a new exhibition at the Hunterdon Art Museum.

“Skeptical Realism,” running through January 5, spotlights the paintings of Mia Brownell and the photography of Martin Kruck. The show’s title is derived from philosophical texts debating the truth and falsehood of things. The artwork of Brownell and Kruck are both visual meditations on perceptions of the artificial and real. Using still life (Brownell) and landscape (Kruck) these artists are reflecting on the current skepticism that has emerged in our political climate and culture by creating altered and ambiguous spaces.

Viewers can discern examples of this skepticism throughout the exhibition. For instance, Kruck’s Habitorium series investigates the traditions of the romantic landscape using a 19th-century printing technique called photogravure. Kruck notes that his work questions the truth of habitat and nature by combining images of natural and urban landscape elements with habitats built for zoos, urban parkland, and other urban public greenspaces, and compresses them into compartmentalized environments.

Brownell’s series Plate to Platelet simultaneously draws on scientific images of platelets (tiny blood cells shaped like plates) and the history of the painted food still life. She said she explores the realism of eating by recognizing the entanglement between the consumerist idealization of food with its biological engineering and the molecular strains that then interact with our bodies. The space she paints attempts to capture this paradoxical perspective, one that is equally rational and fantastical, material and in constant flux. She encourages viewers to consider this question: If we are what we eat, what are we becoming?

Brownell, who teaches painting and drawing in New Haven at Southern Connecticut State University, has had solo exhibitions in several major American cities including New York, Boston, and Washington, D.C. Her paintings have been featured in more than 130 group exhibitions worldwide, and can be found in several private, corporate, and public art collections.

Kruck’s work has been featured in 25 solo exhibitions and more than 100 group exhibitions internationally. A professor of art at New Jersey City University, he has received numerous grants and artist fellowships including the American Academy in Rome, the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, and the Mid Atlantic Arts Foundation.

The Hunterdon Museum is at 7 Lower Center Street in Clinton. For more information, call (908) 735-8415 or visit www.hunterdonartmuseum.org.