Megan Rye's paintings of the Iraq war are real enough to make the actuality of the battlefront known to the viewer as well as a photo would, but they have a layer of confusion and ambiguity that allows (or forces) people to interpret the images as they want to. Perhaps this emotional juxtaposition is achieved because Rye bases her paintings off a collection of over 2,000 photos her brother took while on active duty in Iraq. She says her brother's experience of returning from the battle-torn nation to find the majority of Americans ambivalent about the conflict spurred her to focus her work on the war and the people fighting it. By painting soldiers from an emotional standpoint, as opposed to a political or patriotic one, Rye delicately emphasizes the converging feelings of the soldiers in her brother's photos. For example, one close-up piece shows a soldier's face, cigar jutting from the lips, eyes obscured behind shades, his expression equally G.I. Joe cool and anguished. In another, a portly infantryman sits in a vehicle, hands folded, with an expression of contentment and thankfulness for life. Rye's works are neither an endorsement of the war nor a detraction. Rather, they remind the viewer of the war and the emotional quagmire it has all of us in.
Nov. 14-Jan. 11, 2008