Melinda Hurst Frye and Cyrra Robinson Show What Lies Beneath at SPSCC

ART REVIEW by Alec Clayton for OLY ARTS

The exhibition now showing in the gallery at South Puget Sound Community College is amazingly lush and gorgeous.

Called “What Lies Beneath,” the show features photographs by Seattle artist Melinda Hurst Frye and sculpture by Olympia-based Cyrra Robinson. The works from each — while more realistic than inventive — are surrealistic and dreamlike and might even be seen as creepy.

Frye’s images are photographed and scanned to depict what she calls invented Pacific Northwest ecosystems. There are 16 prints from three series called “Forest Floor,” “Roots” and “Underneath,” picturing plants, roots, moss, vines, nurse logs, insects, fallen apples and plums — the death and regeneration of nature pictured in glorious color with greenery that glows, like leaves in the low-lying afternoon sun out of a deep black background.

There is also a video that looks like a series of still images exactly like her photographs but with one sweet difference viewers who look closely enough will see miniscule movement from things like darting insects. 

According to a description on the gallery website, Robinson’s bronze and stone sculptures “explore the spaces between the fantasy and reality of our natural world to discover and highlight where they most intersect.”

Bronze sculptures of strange plant forms grow out of solid rock. These are invented plants, but they look very much like they could be real, and Robinson gives them Latin names such as “Anguinus Digitales” (which look like flowering cacti with blooms that reach out like grasping hands) and “Trypo Bullitus.” (which look like petrified grape arbors growing in the desert).

Robinson’s sculptures are mostly small, no more than a foot in length or height. The rocks are found, not sculpted, and they come in many varieties of color and texture and striations. The plants literally come out of the rocks and stand up. They are spikey and stand like trees with few leaves. Some of the trunks and limbs look almost like armor-clad insects.

Gallery Director Sean Barnes said each of the artists sent in a proposal separately, but the comparisons and connections between their works are so striking they could have planned and executed the show together. Both display a tremendous love for and knowledge of nature. This show is, simply stated, unlike anything seen before.


What Lies Beneath: photographs by Melinda Hurst Frye and sculpture by Cyrra Robinson


Monday-Friday noon to 6 p.m. through Nov. 1;

Closing reception 4:30-6:30 p.m. Wed., Oct 27


South Puget Sound Community College’s Kenneth J Minnaert Center for the Arts Gallery, 2011 Mottman Rd. SW. Olympia


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