A local artist uses a ‘grounding device’ on the main stage of the Chambers Gallery

The work of local artist Candace Thatcher is in the final stages of installation at the Chambers Project Gallery in Grass Valley. Her work explores moiré patterns and includes new media, drawing, painting and digital manipulations, which involves painting, scanning and appropriating a pre-existing image, and painting the data.
Photo by Elias Funez/efunez

The psychedelic genre in the visual arts is delineated at the Chambers Project in Grass Valley. This Saturday will feature the gallery’s first solo exhibition, which will continue to explore transcendent motifs – through texture and optics – to comment on human relationships with technology.

Local artist Candace Thatcher, 32, describes her art – and her process – as a movement from analog to digital.

“What I’m doing is appropriating a pre-existing image from an image-based platform – Instagram, Google, Tumblr – by simply loading images onto my phone in low wifi areas- Fi for there to be the pre-existing image, then painting the topographical reading of that image,” Thatcher said.



The dark and light colors present in the computer graphics form the sculptural form, which Thatcher then “translates” into Adobe Illustrator or Photoshop to play with optical color mixing. The optical mixed-media artist transforms the uploaded image into 3D modeling to eventually create this thread form from a “relief map”.

According to Thatcher’s artist statement, “bump mapping” is a computer graphics technique that stimulates texture on an object.



“I love this contrast between this very old technique paired with new technology and then creating something that’s sort of devoid of reality,” Thatcher said. “It’s a simulated environment, it has no perspective – just this relationship.”

Thatcher’s art renders a snapshot of a texture of something originally two-dimensional and reimagines how the new form takes up space.

Candace Thatcher’s optical art will be on display at Chambers Gallery with a solo exhibition starting this Saturday at 5 p.m.
Photo: Elias Funez

Thatcher said she enjoys finding spontaneity within technology-integrated processes.

“Once the computer simulates it in 3D modeling or I model it in 3D, it transforms into this biomorphic form and then just plays with it,” Thatcher explained. “I don’t know where it’s going to end up and I like that degree of luck with technology and the 3D modeling program.”

Method or meaning?

Like Chambers’ last exhibition, where gallery visitors saw five psychedelic paintings working in tandem on two separate canvases, Thatcher’s work is about process.

Thatcher said she was aesthetically drawn to metal fittings, but the appeal goes beyond appearances.

“I started exporting art with very detailed imagery because it’s grounded,” Thatcher explained, adding, “and I’ve struggled with anxiety all my life.”

When Thatcher first made the wireframe sculptures out of wood after she started 3D modeling, she thought to herself, “I would like to do more.”

At the same time, Thatcher said she was starting to read more about Marshall McLuhan and Sherry Turkle, an MIT sociologist who wrote about “the effects of technology, the extended nervous system and the global village and how technology changes our behavior and the way we interact”. .”

Technology influences the way art is created because each person processes “so many images and images every day,” Thatcher said.

Many of Candace Thatcher’s optical artworks will be on display at her solo exhibition at the Chambers Gallery in Grass Valley which opens this Saturday.
Photo: Elias Funez

Thatcher’s work aims to recreate the experience of “our constant preoccupation with screens”. The multimedia artist uses neon paints and mediums to illuminate the proverbial screen pixels that most keep on hand around the clock.

The digital culture aesthetic has Thatcher “thinking about how we’re all connected” – but she’s not alone.

Thatcher said she was not surprised at Chambers’ interest in her work because of the long-standing relationship between optical art and elements first found in 1960s concert posters that Chambers has made it his mission to collect.

Thatcher said her childhood home — which she shared with her sister and co-collaborator Jessie — has at least two psychedelic concert posters she knows Chambers must know about.

Jessie Thatcher, Candace Thatcher’s older sister by four and a half years, went to Mills College in Oakland.

Jessie Thatcher said she and her sister’s works are not necessarily gendered, but said the women were influenced by their grandmother, a former Chicago Art Institute student, and their mother’s designs.

Jessie Thatcher said she could see a common theme in the bauhaus movement as she and her sister play with textures in different mediums because “there is a woven element”.

“I don’t know why I’m drawn to these patterns, these depths, the reflection of light,” said Jessie Thatcher. “It comes down to op art because you’re dealing with art on some level.”

Brian Chambers saw the connection when Thatcher’s family friend – and Chambers’ architect – Richard Baker introduced the gallerist to his work.

Chambers said Julie Baker, wife of Richard, was the head of the Grass Valley Center for the Arts and the couple’s recommendation had already paid off.

“All of his plays sold out,” Chambers said of his very first show, “and my audience seemed to like it.”

Chambers Gallery art curator Brian Chambers talks about Candace Thatcher’s upcoming solo exhibition opening this Saturday in Grass Valley.
Photo: Elias Funez

Using old techniques with new technologies, Thatcher’s 3D modeling creates “a simulated environment, detached from reality and perspective – I enjoy this relationship with the imagery of social media platforms”.

“I’ve always been a fan of optical art,” Chambers said, “but the way she creates her art is different from any other artist I work with. It always appeals to the 3D element of everything I gravitate toward.

Chambers, who began collecting art when he was in high school, said Thatcher was of younger stuff than the artists he typically works with.

“I think the younger generation has a different approach — and different relationships with their approach to creating and getting to the finish line for their product,” Chambers said. “I don’t know of anyone else in my typical area of ​​operation who approaches creation the way she does. I find it fascinating, unique and inspiring.

Chambers said every exhibition he has scheduled in the gallery space he began occupying in November 2021 “goes down the books as an important part of art history.”

For Chambers, that means Grass Valley is also entering the history books.

“I’m very proud of what we’ve created and where we’re headed and I think a young female artist doing the first show is relevant,” Chambers said, adding that the show highlights one of the many key payers already on and encroaching on the psychedelic art scene.

Thatcher said she worked in the creative collective space called Curious Forge, the artist collective known as the Nail Factory and was lucky enough to work in the studio of Evan Nesbit, a Yale University graduate who teaches art at Sierra College.

Chambers said he was honored to be part of what he thinks is a special moment for Thatcher.

“I don’t think she’s done a show on that kind of level that will get that much attention,” Chambers said, adding. “I think it’s a really cool thing for the local community.”

Rebecca O’Neil is a staff writer for The Union. She can be reached at [email protected]

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