VISUAL ARTS PICK: Victoria Haven

by Andrew Engelson
(from Seattle Weekly Oct 6-12, 2004)

Victoria Haven was recently awarded Seattle Art Museum's prestigious Betty Bowen Award, and not a moment too soon. Haven does incredible things with lightweight materials such as tiny Mylar rings and shelf paper. But fragile is an adjective that should never be applied to Haven's art. Even though her works are made from whispy, ephemeral materials, there's a formidable solidity to her work. The show's title, "Wonderland" derives from a large-scale two-dimensional mountain cut from a maze of shelf paper printed with phony wood grain. The whole assemblage is truly wonder-inspiring: but like Disneyland, this vast mountain is founded on something profoundly artificial. But that's Haven's true genius: being able to take a cheap material and confer the sublime upon it. Haven's "Halo," a series of Mylar loops arranged in a bubbly constellation on the gallery walls, has all the grandeur of an evening sky to it. The cut-paper in "Clearcut" (shown) is a virtuoso heap of loops and tangles that feels much more weighty than the few ounces of wood fiber it's made from. In Haven's intricate inner landscapes of line and form, you could get lost for days.