Erica Mao is best known for her atmospheric layered paintings that stitch together disparate spaces into alternate realities. Depictions of desolate Americana landscapes explore the feelings of fear, tension, and suspense and depict characters as they weave their way in and out of the narrative. Mao has exhibited in galleries such as International Print Center New York and Madison Park Gallery. Awards include a Keyholder Residency at Lower East Side Printshop, the Leroy and Janet Neiman Award at the Leroy Neiman Center for Print Studies, and the Glasier Fellowship at Columbia University. Born in Maryland, Mao attended Parsons School of Design and received her BFA in 2016. She graduated from her MFA in Visual Arts at Columbia University in 2021. She lives and works in New York City.

Born from earth
opening on November 6, 6 to 8 pm.

RUBBER FACTORY is pleased to present a solo show with Erica Mao, “Born from earth”.

The paintings in “Born from earth” are wild, imagined terrains filled with perilous elements. Rocky caverns, barren plains, putrid swamps, burning trees and bottomless pits set the backdrop for the works. These elements recall dual locales specific to Erica from the wetlands and forests of Maryland which snake around cookie-cutter suburban developments to the dense, humid jungles in Taiwan.

The landscapes are charged with dislocation and hostility while populated by figures in exile, moving across vast lands they’ve been shunned to. These protagonists are searchers looking for shelter, safety, knowledge, or spiritual enlightenment. They are travelers, mystics, stalkers, sages or broken people often journeying alone. The narrative and internal lives of these protagonists fuel the swirling, psychological spaces of the paintings in “Born to earth”.

In contrast to the slick monotonous screens of modern life, textured surfaces echoing old tree barks or worn barn doors emerge from Erica’s panels. They stubbornly resist the act of painting and disrupt pictorial renderings, merging to form crevices or scarring the composition. The material life of the paintings share affinities with the small ceramic houses also in the show. Their diminutive scale is reminiscent of spirit houses or doll houses. These houses are dwellings that serve as shelter in the inhospitable world the protagonists wander in.

In the studio, the works channel the undercurrents of everyday media; tv shows, movies, books, news, podcasts, music find their way into the pieces. The hallucinatory atmosphere with a depraved surface tension might be inspired by David Lynch’s Blue Velvet suburban town and its veneer of unease. Cinema and its narrative arc informs the way the narrative unfolds in the paintings with the works capturing the moment right before the climax, the moment leading up to  the confrontation or action when there is the most tension. True crime stories such as The Donner Party and Jonestown also find their way into the murky psychological space of the paintings. Serial killers and cultists form a subset of a larger American myth being unearthed in the works. They are clues in the deep dark cave, waiting to swallow you whole.

@rubberfactoryny  29c Ludlow Street, New York, NY 10002