Kadie Nugent’s Laundry Day, at Leedy-Voulkos, is well worth taking a spin through

Now that surround video gaming and Google Glass are becoming available to artists wanting to plunge their viewers into a 360-degree experience, there’s something newly refreshing about less confrontational forms of immersion. Case in point: the high-whimsy, decidedly analog approach taken by 2015 Kansas City Art Institute graduate Kadie Nugent in her installation Laundry Day Was Last Week. The exhibition is in its final days and is well worth seeking out. In my memory, the lower-level gallery at Leedy-Voulkos Art Center (2012 Baltimore) has never before been used with such impressive thoroughness.

As you can see in these photos, Nugent has turned the narrow little gallery into a crinkly, black-and-white re-creation of a bedroom. The entire space is covered in long, large sheets of paper, which have in turn been covered in life-sized sketches of furniture in black marker. Little dash marks on the floor — thousands of them — are the carpeting. Some of these marks climb obsessively up the walls, giving a kinetic quality to what is otherwise a scene frozen in time.

There’s a dresser topped with 2-D cosmetics, prescriptions, a jewelry box and a bottle labeled “alcohol” with a flower in it. The closet, drawn on the wall nearby, is mostly empty. Whoever lives here hasn’t gotten around to picking up the piles of black-and-white clothes scattered on the floor, or hauling the garments that spill from a 3-D laundry basket, roughly sketched in black wire, to the washing machine.

A few other objects selected by Nugent are likewise drawn in wire: A ceiling fan hangs over the bed, Venetian blinds cover the make-believe windows, and a small bedside table awaits more clutter. The same wire also makes up the representation of a bedspread, which here tumbles over the blocky white platform bed that anchors the room. A naturally intimate thing, the bed gives the installation just enough substance to make the imaginary space seem real. 

Life is chaotic, Nugent suggests with this art, even in seemingly simple spaces — perhaps more so. Falling behind in chores is a common experience, and her installation asks us to consider what happened, or what is happening, to the person who lives here. Witnessing the space is like being inside the occupant’s memory.

Nugent’s just-acquired bachelor’s of fine arts degree is in fiber. She is continuing to work with wire, marker and fabric in advance of a group show in August. Laundry Day makes it clear that, whatever that show looks like, it’ll be a must-see.

Laundry Day Was Last Week
Through May 30 at Leedy-Voulkos Art Center, 2012 Baltimore, leedy-voulkos.com.
The gallery is open from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. Thursday through Sunday.