Tania Kitchell makes meditating on the weather into an art. Winters are cold in Toronto, where she lives, and Kitchell doesn't just bundle up and get on with life. Her show "Low Pressure"...

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Tania Kitchell makes meditating on the weather into an art. Winters are cold in Toronto, where she lives, and Kitchell doesn’t just bundle up and get on with life. Her show “Low Pressure” at James Harris Gallery is subtle and minimalist in appearance with a nice conceptual edge to back it up. A bit like British artist Andy Goldsworthy, Kitchell can best be categorized as an experiential artist, someone who transmutes living in the moment to captivating visual and verbal documents.

In one yogic action, she gets out in the snow and, with bare arms and no gloves, squeezes armloads of snow into big balls. Two photographs document the skin-numbing process and the result — a quiet white on white abstraction.

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In another series of five photographic prints, Kitchell magnifies the water droplets of her frosty breath into miniature renditions of the Milky Way. The top of her head protrudes slightly into one frame and looks like it might be the top of the planet Earth. By the final frame of the series (as presented in the gallery), Kitchell’s arched eyebrows, eyes and the bridge of her nose rise over the horizon and transform the macrocosmic image back into the artist’s personal creation.

The final component of the exhibit is a small group of text panels etched on Plexiglas that present Kitchell’s timed observations of the shifting weather. Most of us take a glance at the sunset or flowing cloud patterns, say “how beautiful” and go back to the rush of what we were doing. Kitchell assigns herself the task of being aware — of the temperature, the color wafting through the sky, the wind, the quality of the air — for eight minutes, nine minutes, 12 minutes, 24 minutes. In short: She experiences her surroundings, and keeps a log that lets the rest of us know what we are missing.



Exhibit review



Tania Kitchell “Low Pressure,” new work, 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Wednesdays-Saturdays, through Jan. 15, James Harris Gallery, 309A Third Ave. S., Seattle (206-903-6220 or www.jamesharrisgallery.com).

“Low Pressure” is a nice pun on weather terminology that also points out the kind of environmentally-atuned living most Americans have grown away from. At this high-pressure time of year, Kitchell’s show offers a timely antidote.

Sheila Farr: sfarr@seattletimes.com