Global ties at RGM Gallery

War, politics, and lily pads — Tides, the newest exhibit in the Regina Gouger Miller Gallery, has got it all. Consisting exclusively of artists from Northern Ireland, Tides is a bold concoction of mediums, messages, and some other “m” words.

As art continues to be a foil for society, Tides is an attempt to find sanity in the midst of Ireland’s current unsteady state. “There’s a feeling of tentative optimism,” said Dean of the School of Art John Carson. “The residue of political trouble is still there.”

The sentiment shows through in the art itself. In Michael Hogg’s “Pivot,” a stack of political posters is barely held in place by a stepladder and clamp; it’s held down for the moment, but any subtle bump or shove could tip it right back over.

Next to “Pivot” sit several cardboard models of buildings in Northern Ireland created by Aisling O’Brien. Perhaps the most interesting of these is an oval structure once used as barracks for the army, now converted into a football stadium. It’s a sign of what Carson called “reflection,” but also of looking forward.

The gallery’s top floor is equally impressive in message, as well as in diversity of formats. “People are less precious about mediums in art today,” Carson said of this mixture. It comes as no surprise that Carnegie Mellon, a school that teaches its art students everything from sculpting to video, hosted a show with this breadth of talent. “If you want to be at the cutting edge,” said Carson, “you have to be able to use these mediums to your advantage.”

The Miller Gallery uses this amalgamation of styles to its benefit. Mary McIntyre’s scenic photographs of both modern architecture and plush countryside line the entryway. Mesmerized by the rich greens next to hard gray steel in McIntyre’s pictures, visitors may nearly trip over Alistair Wilson’s “Giverny II,” an installation of water lily disks (a la Claude Monet) on the floor of the gallery. Just down the hall is Ian Charlesworth’s “Always, Again.” Made from carbon on plexiglass, “Always, Again” is a monster, in-your-face piece with an energy similar to Jackson Pollock’s work.

“Art is educational,” Carson said. “It gives you insight into what is going on in the world, but also helps us introspect on our own society,” he added. “[Some pieces] have local references to what’s going on in Ireland, but have underlying global themes.” Satisfied with the exhibit, Carson said, “It’s an interesting time to get art from that part of the world.”