Naomi Middelmann (CH/US)

Text written by GHA

Mixed-media artist Naomi Middelmann was born in Switzerland but moved to the United States to pursue a non-art-related university degree, giving her a unique multicultural background and artistic perspective. She creates three-dimensional wall pieces that stand out in their use of unorthodox materials and methods.

In many of her pieces, Middelmann uses atlases to create intricate layers of maps or data sheets. This repurposing of old material allows for historical conversation between the pieces’ original practical function and current artistic use. Middelmann’s paper-cutting technique includes folding and cutting along differing map features, such as roads and rivers. In her pieces involving data sheets, this results in a physical removal of some data points alongside a change in location of others, disrupting the usually set-in-stone statistical facts on data sheets and the flow of information.

Naomi Middelmann

Middelmann’s multi-dimensional effect seems to juxtapose differences in physical location with very real connections of identity and nationality.  Bold lines and thin strips of paper connect locations across space and distance. This layering also gives her pieces a physical depth that immerses the viewer within them and encourages them to consider their own journey.

Middelmann’s latest drawings and paintings take her signature style to a new level by combining her cartographic theme with bright colors and patterns against a minimalist background. The bold, expressive lines add texture and movement to the abstract patterns, which are reminiscent of the recognizable shapes and colors of traditional maps. The patterns also contain individual imaginative elements that blur the boundaries between physical and mental space. By combining these different elements on paper, Middelmann challenges our understanding of spatiality and perspective and asks the viewer to re-evaluate their assumptions about the interplay between physical places and imaginary concepts of space. In this medium, Middelmann once again questions the parameters of our sense of orientation and what defines our own perception of space.

Middlemann deals with questions of intersectionality herself, due to her dual Swiss-American identity and focus on more scientific and historic aspects of art. Middelmann’s interlocking webs of shapes, ideas, and information invoke thoughts of the connections between places and people and the unceasing flood of information that accompanies it.

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