Born 1975 in Chicago, Illinois; lives in Los Angeles, California
Amanda Ross-Ho gathers together apparently mismatched media, including found objects, photographs, drawings, sculptures, paintings, and video clips, into installations driven by her urge to imbue these groupings of impersonal materials with individual identities. At the same time, the assemblages reflect sociopolitical and formal concerns that range from renegotiating definitions of high art versus craft to exploring the dimensional tension between sculpture and photography. Ross-Ho’s installations are typically deployed around slabs of drywall used either as freestanding partitions or raw sculptural elements leaning against the gallery walls. Against these architectural stages and backdrops, her collages and found objects— arranged according to various organizing principles— become contextual clues that reveal their materiality both literally, as accumulated detritus, and figuratively, as mass translated through the language of sculpture.
Inquisitive viewers can discover hidden portions of the work, placed behind or inside her more evident structures. While these groupings bear resemblance to Scatter art assemblages, any sense of clutter is precluded by the clean white Sheetrock walls that function as sorting apparatuses or sculptural “file folders.” In the installation gran-abertura (2006) at Western Exhibitions in Chicago, a tripartite wall concealed one such collection: Ross-Ho stacked photographic collages of decorative household objects, spray-painted wreaths and baskets, and wineglasses along with items utilized in installation (a wooden palette, a dirty paint bucket), organizing the components by subject matter while obliterating boundaries between two and three dimensions. The imposing drywall was pierced by holes carved in a doily pattern (a recurring motif in her work), allowing light to filter in and half illuminate the objects.
Ross-Ho’s use of positive and negative space recalls the work of Gordon Matta-Clark or Rachel Whiteread, though Ross-Ho’s emphasis on collaged visual imagery obviates the temptation to discuss her work in purely sculptural terms. She also operates within the tradition of Conceptual artists, such as Matt Mullican, who invent idiosyncratic lexicons from existing symbols. In her 2007 exhibition Nothin Fuckin Matters at Los Angeles’s Cherry and Martin gallery, Ross-Ho complicated her use of positive/negative and inside/outside space by using scale to point out how meaning is determined by content rather than by size. Sad Sack (2007), a gigantic drop-cloth tote bag slouched against the wall like a Claes Oldenburg soft sculpture, is filled with remnants of previous works as a grossly enlarged monument to artmaking. The faux fireplace Mantle (2007), carved roughly from drywall and decorated with drywall leftovers from other pieces, sits under a photograph of Earth that amplifies the sculptural object instead of the planet. Unifying the installation were cut-canvas macramé paintings mounted on drywall fragments and another knotwork pattern incised into drywall, comparing labor practices between Ross-Ho’s tracings and paintings and the textiles they replicate.
Ross-Ho invents puzzles out of non sequiturs to seek congruence in seemingly incongruous situations, whether visual or spatial. Her work inhabits those interstitial spaces between understanding and confusion, adding mysterious allure to her installations’ overall effect. TRINIE DALTON
Amanda Ross-Ho, Mantle, 2007. Incised drywall, mounted and framed inkjet print, and monochrome dye diffusion transfer print (Polaroid), dimensions variable. Collection of the artist