Wilderness, an exhibition of paintings by Ann Marie Nafziger, opens Friday, August 24, 2012 at Marfa Book Company.

Nafziger will show nine new paintings and one work on paper. The paintings range from modest in size to large-scale and are acrylic on canvas; the lone paper work is a monotype print.

As in previous work, Nafziger uses forms that hint at odd-looking things from nature—crawling limbs, seedpods, and root-like protuberances appear; so do insects and architecture—but the references are less specific. These figures (and the paintings themselves) seem on their way to becoming something else, caught in the act of morphing from one thing to another. Clean, sharp edges lend a graphic sensibility to the work and create distinctions between layers of information, but color choices and shifts in transparency and opacity cause foreground and background to swap or merge, and a sense of flux to prevail.

Many of the paintings in the show contain a single figure that dominates. Nafziger often treats these as templates, re-using them in multiple paintings. Some works include silhouetted forms applied as transparencies, allowing the viewer to see through them, like a veil, to other layers of brushwork, lines, or sprayed marks. In other pieces, the silhouette or outline is itself a kind of container for a cacophony of gestures, with its edges defined starkly against another, more solid plane of color.

The largest painting in the show, titled “Root Down” (96 x 84 inches) offers the viewer a landscape of sorts. A large, gnarled form is stenciled over half the canvas, while smaller, bulbous objects are painted with loose, contour outlines. These are joined by flat, concrete-colored planes of primer gray and some wide, vertical stripes or bands of color that act like Venetian window blinds, partially blocking and partially allowing the viewer to see through to what lies beyond. In this piece and in others, a sense of constantly shifting territory and ongoing change seems to be embraced by the painter as a strategy unto itself.

Nafziger has a fondness for uncultivated landscapes and examples of nature having her way (whether in untouched wilderness areas or forsaken urban places overtaken by vegetation) and is intrigued by the natural world’s ability to adapt to new circumstances in order to regenerate and survive.

Wilderness will be on view through September 23, 2012. Marfa Book Company is located at 105 South Highland Avenue in Marfa and is open Wednesday through Saturday, 10:00 AM – 6:00 PM and Sunday 11:00 AM – 5:00 PM. For more information contact the bookstore at 432 729 3906.

Ann Marie Nafziger was born in Northwest Ohio in 1972. She received a BA in liberal arts from Goshen College (IN) in 1994 and completed an MFA in painting from the University of Houston (TX) in 2008. She was an artist-in-residence at Caldera Arts in Sisters, Oregon in 2011. Her work has been included in national and international venues, mostly in Oregon, Texas, and the Midwest, since 1998. Nafziger lives and works in Marfa, Texas. More information is available at the artist’s website, www.amnafziger.com.