Revisiting R. Nelson Parrish approaches his art as a means of investigating the subtle contrasts between natural and man-made conditions. Born and raised in Alaska, Parrish finds inspiration in both the rugged elements of his native home and his current surrounding in urban Southern California. Drawing directly from his experiences of skiing, racing and surfing that is, shifting through landscapes at high speeds he translates the blur of movement into brilliant flashes of color appropriately entitled racing stripes. Thick, clear and semi-translucent resin, fiberglass and intense bands of pigmented are layered onto planks of boldly grained native woods in suspended positions above, adjoining and against one another. The results, the artist names totems. With these and related wall works, Parrish provokes in us the desire to plumb the depths to seek out and discern the synthetic from the natural.
Recognizing the increasing speed at which our global society operates, Parrish is keen to observe a skill: the ability to induce disengagement from the tumult and perceptions of chaos of participants in adrenaline sports a means to draw upon a singular focus to the present. Translating this practice into his work, Parrish seeks to create transcendent totems that balance between painting and sculpture, being both and yet neither. Pulling from the discourse initiated with Finish Fetish, Minimalism and the Light and Space Movement, he redefines the dialogue and constructs objects of great radiance built from wood and casts transitory color with solidity and weight.
It is in this way, for the artist, that outdoor/extreme athletics are a phenomenon of contrast. Sport: surfing, skiing, street racing, mountain biking, etc., is the melding of the raw forces of nature with the highly developed physical skills of the athlete, becoming an effortlessly sublime action. Parrish seeks to create works that are a visual translation of these synergies. Landscape, object and movements fuse into one.
Currently, the artist is showing in Some City Angels, a group exhibit reactionary to Pacific Standard Time at Edward Cella Art+Architecture in Los Angeles. Furthermore, R. Nelson Parrish is producing an eight-totem public works project to be installed this November in Reno, NV.
The artist is preparing for True North, an exhibition at the Rasmuson Museum in Anchorage, AK; an exploration of departure from the utopian northern landscape, and The Landscape Experience; a collaboration between himself and world class extreme athletes interacting with the Utah landscape. The Landscape Experience is a solo exhibition at the Kimball Art Center in Park City, UT. Both True North and The Landscape Experience debut in the spring of 2012.
Born in 1979 in Fairbanks, Alaska, R. Nelson Parrish earned his MFA from the University of California-Santa Barbara. His works have been exhibited in galleries and institutions across the country. The work has the privilege of being in the collections of notable Santa Barbara locals Barry & Jo Berkus, Rob & Sheryl Lowe, and Andrew Firestone.