22 October 2023
Building, Garden, Tapestry
Amy Boone-McCreesh explores notions
of status and gate-kept places
by Kate Mothes
From prim gated communities, to the multi-billion dollar cosmetics industry, to the spectrum of “nice things,” social status is all about appearances. “Indicators of class and socio-economic status often present visually, from the clothes we wear, the homes we live in, and the spaces we inhabit,” says Amy Boone-McCreesh. “My work borrows visual cues from these worlds to examine assumptions about ‘good’ and ‘bad’ taste. Beauty, while operating freely in nature, has been co-opted for consumerism as a way to buy access to depictions of success.”
American social class is typically measured using economic factors. Often distilled down to three categories: rich, middle class, and poor, those categories are further broken down by some sociologists into as many as a dozen sub-categories like “high upper class” or “lower middle class.” Some disagree that there is such a thing as class in America, and that instead it has much more to do with how people perceive what status means.
Beyond tidy classifications there are the subtle signifiers that often reference specific subcultures or symbols of status, like taste or prestige, access to brands, travel, jobs, architecture, style, or leisure time. Through a language combining abstraction with the occasional recognizable object—tropes of wealth like chandeliers, animal skin rugs, or exclusive views—Boone-McCreesh examines notions of luxury and taste as elements of class.
The artist uses everyday materials like paper, plastic bags, and fabric, augmented with other materials to create glowing, textured collages. In some, the latticework of a gate or fence appears amidst a maximalist array of washy paint, hints of flora or landscapes, bricks, or adjacent buildings. “My work often references interior spaces, ideas around home, and most importantly, access,” the artist says. “Places are gate kept, especially beautiful and luxurious ones, and this is something I explore through the creation of artwork.”
Boone-McCreesh’s most recent body of work takes on the humble cloth napkin and sewing samples, subtle symbols of refinement and leisure. Some of the compositions include additional accessories and keys suspended from the frames, simultaneously providing the means of access while also tapping into the relationship between artist and viewer and the look-but-don’t-touch attitude expected in galleries or museums. “Places can make us feel welcome and provide a sense of belonging, or make us feel excluded,” she says. On one hand, the keys may be an invitation, and on the other, a dare.
All images © Amy Boone-McCreesh