A public garden & cultural center

Rita MacDonald

Sunroom | May 22 – June 27, 2010

Wave Hill announces Duplex, by Rita MacDonald, the first exhibition of five in the 2010 Sunroom Project Space. As part of Wave Hill’s Workspace Program, MacDonald has been working on site during the month of March. For this work, she has created an elaborate wall painting which utilizes patterning, repetition and optical illusion to move the viewer’s eye about the room. Starting with two patterns, a two-tone, green ivy motif and a graphic image of white birds, MacDonald made large stencils through which she applied paint and plaster directly onto the room’s walls. The image begins as a flat pattern, mimicking wallpaper, then contorts through space as it spreads over the wall, seeming to bend and move against the wall’s flatness.

By manipulating the scale and dimension of a pattern, MacDonald alters the painting’s perspective, disorienting the viewer. In doing so, she heightens the visual experience of the space, accentuating the room’s distinct architecture and calling attention to the dramatic views visible beyond its four large windows. The vines and birds, depicted in a deliberately stylized way, offer a striking contrast to the natural landscape. MacDonald is also interested in the role that decorative patterns play in a memory, pointing to the emotional resonance that the recollection of an ordinary element of domestic material, such as the design on a sheet of wallpaper, can hold. Here, these many layers of meaning converge to create a subtly unsettling and quietly powerful intervention in the room.

Artist Website


Duplex, 2010, paint and plaster on wall, 17 x 17 feet.
Courtesy of the artist.

Duplex (study), 2010

Duplex (study), 2010, paint and plaster on wall, 17 x 17 feet.
Courtesy of the artist.


The Arts at Wave Hill are supported by Lily Auchincloss Foundation, Inc., Milton & Sally Avery Arts Foundation, the National Endowment for the Arts, New York State Council on the Arts with the support of Governor Andrew M. Cuomo and the New York State Legislature and by the Cathy and Stephen Weinroth Commissioning Fund for the Arts. 

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