Rubber and Road: The beauty of bicycles

Huston’s “Giant Shadow” shown here at UMass Lowell. (Patrick Connell/UML Connector)

Patrick Connell
Connector Staff

The newest art exhibit showcased in Mahoney Hall on South Campus is “Rubber and Road.” Katina Huston is the artist responsible for this gallery.

The exhibit features a series of ink drawings of bicycles and their parts on Mylar paper. Mylar is a partially translucent sheet, and its plastic nature causes the ink to dry on top of it as opposed to being absorbed. This adds a peculiar effect not typically seen in most paintings. About a dozen of these pieces are currently on display.

Her main focus was to capture the shadows that bikes make. In a presentation Huston gave before the gallery’s reception Sept. 19, she provided an anecdote for how she was raised in a particular way due to being a girl. She wanted to express the weight of social pressures and bikes were a good metaphor because they become worn and rusted, and after being used they are just chained up.

With a supplementary note hanging in the gallery, Huston wrote of her series, “My first independent navigations of the world were on a bicycle… Later I was a bicycle messenger in punk San Francisco’s gritty culture of pop tarts, cigarettes and contempt for the yuppie bankers we delivered to. Even in New York I biked to work but stopped because I arrived furious, often trapped in the 18” between panel trucks on First Avenue.”

Though the “Rubber and Road” series has the aforementioned idea of pushing against social pressure, there are other aspects she tries to make jump out at her audience; some in a very literal sense. Two of the pieces in Mahoney are titled “Slinky,” with bike wheels bouncing in an arch like the children’s toys of the same name. In a couple others, the artist has the wheel silhouettes energetically bouncing around the Mylar in a fashion she referred to as a “dynamo.” Though not in the gallery at UMass Lowell, Huston does have another work in her series showing the front of a bicycle that makes it look like a crucifixion.

Huston’s presentation was a good means of showing how she has evolved as an artist, as it goes through many significant events of her life both personally and culturally. She used a timeline as a direct means of conveying that, but she also talked about various people that had inspired her, such as Margaret Atwood and Lee Bontecou, and other works she had done. One example she brought up was how she had sewn a dress out of flowers when she was in college.

Huston will have her works shown in UMass Lowell’s Mahoney Hall until Oct. 12, and if audience like them be sure to go to her series called “Dysphoria” on Friday, Oct. 6 from 5:30 -7:30 p.m. at the Chase Young Gallery in Boston.

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