S. Billie Mandle and Michael Wright in conversation

On May 27, as part of the programming for Blue Ground, artist S. Billie Mandle and writer Michael Wright discussed her online exhibition with Garden (Blue Ground), her larger practice, and the complicated relationship between contemporary art and religious traditions.

Blue Ground is an online exhibition by Los Angeles and Amherst, Massachusetts-based artist S. Billie Mandle. In this body of work, Mandle turned her camera toward the gardens of cooperative homes for people with intellectual and physical disabilities. These contemplative large-format photographs of flowers, weeds, and garden walls have been overlaid with distinct shades of blue sourced from the hues used in medical supplies. Here, Mandle meditates on the politics and nature of care, community, and health through the cultural lens of the color blue.

The exhibition is on view online at Garden through June 17, 2020. A portion of the proceeds of the exhibition will be donated to the COVID-19 Mutual Aid Network LA.

S. Billie Mandle (b. New Haven, 1978) is an artist based in Los Angeles, CA, and Amherst, MA. She approaches photography as a tool for observation and obstruction, looking at the intersection of power, history and place. Mandle’s work is internationally exhibited and published, including features in Aperture, Cabinet, Image and Wired. She earned a BA in biology and English from Williams College and an MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design. She is an assistant professor of photography at Hampshire College in Amherst. Her monograph, Reconciliation, will be published in spring 2020 by Kehrer Verlag.

Michael Wright is a Los Angeles-based writer with an MA in art and religious studies. He is the head of communications for Bridge Projects and writes Still Life, a weekly letter on art and spirit.