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Review: Giles shows variety, nuance at Duane Reed

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, April 6, 2010 - The new works by fiber artist Mary Giles at Duane Reed bring together sensitivity to materials and a nuanced engagement with formal concerns.

"Crevice" is a rock-like sculpture, split into parts and revealing the startling contrast between the hairy, dark exterior and the warm metallic sparkle within. The other works in the exhibition take sculptural form but eventually wend their way through issues of painting (of all things!) "Passage" and "Divergence" are wall works that organize small wire figures into dense groupings against blank grounds.

"Sentry Field" is a shimmering grid of waxed linen, copper and iron, evoking the meditative painted fields of Agnes Martin. With "Light Reflections," Giles weaves shimmering ribbons of metallic leaf across five separate fetish-type figures.

And in "Five Part Suite," groups of waxed linen bottle forms engage in complex visual games. They maintain the quiet, cerebral air of still lifes by the painter Giorgio Morandi, while extending his formal questions into the third dimension.

Giles is well known for her meticulous care to detail and her technical skill. This exhibition reveals an unusually keen engagement with conceptual and formal ideas as well.

Ivy Cooper, a professor of art at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville, is the Beacon's art critic.