The components are arranged sparingly in the long, grey gallery. Wooden beams stretch out on the floor. One hangs from the ceiling, but not all the way down. One stands. Some are partially painted in bright primary colors. Eyes follow the path that the artist has ordered, from object to object and around the bare spaces.
I first saw the gallery at the Mattress Factory in the summer of 1982. Stepping off the elevator into the warm, dark space gave me a feeling of isolation, like being in some urban sanctuary. The dimensions of the gallery were imperceptible. When the lights were turned on, the space took on an unexpected form. The walls were not the usual pervasive white. The slate blue-grey color of the brick masonry made them look impenetrable and reinforced the density and sense of compression I initially experienced while standing in the dark, waiting for the lights to come on. The gallery seemed long. It measured ninety feet. Massive, wooden beams at five foot intervals were fourteen feet above the floor. The floor was refinished with a glossy surface that reflected the overhead lights. Its width measured eighteen feet. The elevator shaft cut into the gallery toward the south end. It divided the room into a smaller cloistered area and a larger, more open, deep space. Two years earlier I had traveled to Egypt. In some remote way, standing in the gallery at the Mattress Factory recalled Egypt and walking through the ruins at Al Uqsur, Insä, Idfü and Kawn-Umbü. In developing the relationships for this installation, I wanted to fuse my initial responses to the temple at Kawn-Umbü. In my work, I look for a critical point poised between instinct and logic, memory and perception, past experience and present condition. I am interested in the space in and around things. In my installations there are only enough parts to sense that what is present is a fragment of a larger invisible structure. Michael Morrill received his BFA from the School of Art and Design at Alfred University and his MFA from the School of Art at Yale University. He is Associate Professor of Studio Art at the University of Pittsburgh.