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23 Chunks of Being – A Retrospective

The Dungeon Master of Meanings

Gregory Price Grieve, Head of the Religious Studies Department at The University of North Carolina at Greensboro, researches and teaches Asian religions and popular culture and is a significant contributor to the emerging study of religion and video games. This retrospective of his photo collages, paintings, sculptures, videos, and installations, many shown together for the first time, spans forty years. These objects are Grieve’s way of exploring ideas that connect his research free of the fixed meanings required in academic writing.

Grieve uses techniques like collage, assemblage, montage, and installation which were originally employed in avant-guard movements from the early 20th-century. The Dadaists, Surrealists, and early Conceptualists used these techniques to revolutionize the role of the artist. Their artwork could satirize social conventions, undermine the certainty of rationality, or embody the sensory and informational overload that was part of modernization. Similarly, Grieve combines found photographic images, many from the Library of Congress, and found objects to create both personal and poetic language. His techniques of layering, superimposition, transparency, and montage unify his source materials with new logic. The results create free associative flows and the effects of lucid dreaming. His titles reveal his humor; playing with etymology, implying conceptual readings, making puns, or cross-referencing to add layers of meaning.


While it’s easy to frame Grieve’s work within this historical canon, his intentions have more in common with religious arts focus on metaphysical phenomena. Shifting away from solely depicting subjects, Grieve’s game-like approach to artmaking asks to be deciphered like an illuminated manuscript or sacred relic. Some of his interactive works address the viewer in a direct and theatrical way. Others employ a visual absorption making them self-contained and oblivious to an outside world. Aesthetically, these strategies share a lot with the logic of video games and virtual reality. Both art forms merge the didacticism of the Medieval church with the spectacularism of late-stage Capitalism. This contemporary aesthetic unifies the traditional forms - sculpture in the form of 3D modeling, illustration, narrative arcs, and dynamic music – into something of an immersive digital phenomenon with the capacity to totalize a worldview. Whether if it's fantasy, conspiracy, mythology, or theory, the power of our imagination transforms the ethereal into the real world, and vice a versa. Grieves practice plays with these precarious boundaries.


In this electric moment, as the physical atomizes into data and perception into pixels, Grieve’s retrospective is not just a collection of objects. It’s an archive of a life understanding itself. The artist becomes a dungeon master, the viewer a willing player, and the artworks in ’23 Chunks of Being'; components in a game of embracing the groundlessness we navigate.


Ryan Hill, Artist, and Educator

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Gregory Price Grieve 2022

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