"When We Get There" is on display at Gallery4Culture, Monday-Friday, 9 a.m.-5 p.m., until its closing reception on Thurs, Dec. 4, from 6-8 p.m.
I first encountered Seattle multidisciplinary artist Dakota Gearhart because of her nature porn. Fascinated with the concept of voyeurism, Gearhart made a series of surreal, laugh-out-loud films in which she comes on to trees and birds, whispering intimacies that suddenly turn into floaty, philosophical musings on the strange relationship between humans and the natural world. There's a sense of play in her work that feels absent from a lot of stuffy gallery shows.
Gearhart's newest installation, Gallery4Culture's "When We Get There," blows that sense of play up into a big wood and concrete labyrinth. Constructed out of castoff materials like old drawers, sheets of glass, and hunks of timber she harvested from Buster Simpson's junk pile, Gearhart has transformed the Pioneer Square gallery into a dreamlike fortress that invites you to crawl through like a jungle gym, or simply stand in the corner and oogle at its odd angles. Those conflicting impulses, it ends up, are exactly what Gearhart hoped to explore with the piece, the physical and psychological "cages" we build for ourselves, and how we alternately feel embraced by and at odds with their confines.
Gearhart met with me to walk through the installation and explain her thoughts on the piece, which we've turned into a GIF comic below.: