Immaterial Light

These works set the stage for asking: Do we ever reach the unreachable, ever . . .

In considering the multidimensional relationships that exist between painting, sculpture, and drawing, one could say that my work is obsessed with the expression of color and light and how they are perceived in space. I work with the indirect reflection of light and color, which is the ethereal goal that my mentors, Agnes Martin and her friend Mark Rothko, spent much of their lives seeking in their art practice.

Colors appear to hover in space as they dematerialize themselves in their reflections. With a soft hue of white background, a true mind set of consciousness, an attention to light fullness and meaning, something vanishing into nothing can be appreciated by the discerning viewer.

My work transforms traditional art ways by capturing light passing through the surface. This may lead the viewer to see beyond into the object's own ethereal timelessness. The semi-transparent surface provides the opportunity to go within by creating work that blurs the distinction between the material and immaterial. Despite what your eyes are telling you, the notion of being able to see beyond the surface changes preconceived ideas of pictorial space and lends itself to meditation.

Light is the key. Light reflects unity, like the sky. I paint with light—it's beyond the material world. I explore the nature of perception and the way that non-physical reflections of light can be transformed into immersive experiences for the viewer. I'm always fascinated by the uncertainty of human perception and the duplicitous nature of vision, which can be both revealing and deceitful. I create paintings that delve into this duality. Upon first read they are austere, geometric abstractions. After further observation, however, the paintings begin to vibrate; light and color become evident and the surface reveals that there are numerous layers beneath. The paintings dissipate into sensuous fields of immaterial color that seem to push space in and out.

By gathering discarded wooden boxes of all sizes and arranging them meticulously within an irregular grid-like structure, I explore formal relationships between dissimilar elements. While each wooden box has its own history, I unite them by painting the whole work black, tying disparate grids into a cohesive sculpture. Throughout time, black has carried the aura of magic. For me, it has a depth that speaks of the magic of darkness and the changeability of the physical form that can bring about an awakening in the process—allowing a change in consciousness.

Quiet art is our loving friend. Its light can soothe us and turn away pain. Sometimes it may be the most important friend we have.

McKay Otto earned his B.A in business from the University of Texas, and scholarships from the MFA Houston Glassell School of Art. His work is inspired by light and its reflections in and around us. McKay continues to investigate the painting/sculpture processes using various acrylic materials. These experiences have led him to create a translucent canvas that moves beyond the traditional flat two-dimensional surface. His most notable innovative approach to painting/sculpture resulted in creating multiple dimensions with the illusion of movement. McKay's work has been included in group museum exhibitions, as well as numerous solo exhibitions in galleries and art centers. In 2022 he was named Innovative Artist of the Year at the Delaplaine Arts Center in Frederick, Maryland. Currently he has works in exhibitions at the Irving Arts Center and Artspace111 in Fort Worth. McKay lives and works in the Texas Hill Country outside of Austin, and in Santa Fe.