Gallery Talk for Imploding Meaning

Jan. 27, 2023, 12:00–1:00 p.m.

Palmer Gallery, College Center

The Palmer Gallery exhibit Imploding Meaning: Tale-less Tales About Absolutely Nothing and Everything In Between features the work of M. Pettee Olsen, Michael Oatman, Rosanne Walsh, and Monica Church—all of whom will be speaking at this event with moderator Meg Hitchcock.

Imploding Meaning is based on the premise that art does not so much as serve story telling as upend it. The participating artists actively cultivate positive ambiguity and would like the viewer to “consider the wordless story; with no beginning, middle or end” (a Zen koan for our times). This multimedia exhibit will feature painting, collage, and installation.

Poughkeepsie artist and curator Monica Church is the recipient of two Arts Mid-Hudson Individual Artist Grants, one for Painting and one for Digital Art & Photography. Her found-material constructions address deep space and the personal in a different way. While rooted in the notion of collage, Church both removes and adds materials that contain a sort of ancestral and/or historical DNA, yet have a deliberate, formalist feel. As a sailor, she has literally traveled vast spaces and traveled the world. Church uses sailcloth and brings her strong design sensibilities in search of a marriage with other objects, both delicate and boldly confrontational, inherited and archivally significant. (

Michael Oatman teaches in the School of Architecture at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute and is showing a portion of a collage-based installation, Imitation of Life, or, The Fossil Record, 2020. Imitation of Life is drawn from Oatman’s vast archive of thousands of images. The all-over wall piece is a mass of circular images creating a field of re-contextualized printed matter. The images are sourced from 100 years of American magazines (1920-2020) including The Saturday Evening Post, Playboy, Life, Ebony, Jet, and Time, among others. Oatman has organized the circles using paper CD cases, then reassembled as one edifice as almost like bricks in a visual wall. The effect allows viewers to revisit potent images from America and the world’s past century with 21st century eyes. Imitation of Life was shown in its entirety at the Albany Institute of History & Art as part of the annual 2020 Exhibition by Artists of the Mohawk-Hudson Region. (

Ucross Foundation Fellow (Spring 2019) M. Pettee Olsen’s insistently interactive and shimmering paintings toy with notions of de-contextualizing the elements found in collage. However, in her paintings, she never actually uses the collage process. Pettee Olsen states, “I am interested in a sort of chaos that is almost order, a making that requires unmaking, and a tension between boundlessness and the drive to impose value…” Pettee Olsen’s paintings were featured in William Havu Gallery (Denver, Colorado), 2019, Women In Abstraction exhibition. (

Rosanne Walsh is the only artist to have two collages selected for publication in the same issue of the participatory magazine, Cut Me Up. Her collage series, Ancestral Familiar, incorporates organic forms that are plucked and sliced from the outdoors. She then combines the elements along with drawing and painting with pins, glue, staples and sewing. Walsh references both the celestial and the terrestrial, removing herself from the clamor of the digital world and questions what her personal place is beyond the noise of media-bytes. (

The artists featured in Imploding Meaning offer a way of approaching their work which takes you, the viewer, beyond the certainty of stories to other ways of seeing and knowing. 

An abstract canvas filled with thick swirls of paint.
M. Pettee Olsen, Falling Away, 2022, synthetic and luminous paint on canvas, triptych (detail)