Materiality; Contemporary Artists and Their Material World
Monday, February 9 – Saturday, March 23, 2013
Gallery hours: Mon – Sat 10 am – 3 pm & Thu evenings 4 – 6 pm
Reception: Thursday, February 14, 4 – 6 pm
WESTCHESTER COMMUNITY COLLEGE FINE ARTS GALLERY invites you to Materiality; Contemporary Artists and Their Material World, a group exhibition curated by Kenise Barnes. Artists participating in the exhibition include Christine Aaron, Beth Dary, Loren Eiferman, Lorrie Fredette, David Licata, Andrea Lillenthal, Jill Parisi, Joanne Mattera, Patricia Miranda, Michael Natiello, Christian Nguyen, B. Avery Syrig, Eleanor White and Tricia Wright. The works in this exhibition range from ceramic to encaustic to natural found wood and synthetic resin, to name a few. In some cases the materials have alchemic transformations, in others the raw components are readily apparent. In each case, a love of a particular material is an integral part of the work.
Curator Kenise Barnes sees materials as not only imbued with physical qualities, such as viscosity, density, malleability and rarity, but also with emotional attributes. Artists, she says, come to their work with two fundamental choices: either work to transcend the materials or surrender to the materials and learn to “think” at its level: an artist has to be aware on many levels of what the “stuff” is to imagine what it can become. Moreover, a viewer’s own knowledge of a medium cannot be denied and informs the work’s reception.
Christine Aaron uses various photographic, printing and painting techniques to create her work. The intellectual and emotional content of my work directly guides my selection of materials, technique and imagery. The artist allows rust and oxidation to occur in stages, so that time
itself becomes an integral part of the composition embracing the fickle nature of her materials and the implicit reference to times passage.
In the past five years Beth Dary has created over a thousand hand-built porcelain sculptures; hundreds of these will be included in this exhibition. The sculptures represent marine barnacles that will increasingly occupy coastal areas as our actions warm the globe and waters begin to rise. Environments under stress are more than a thematic aspect of her work as the materials themselves have transitional qualities and are subject to interactive and evolutionary change. These ceramic sculptures are bisque-fired, without the final firing that would render them impermeable, leaving them porous and vulnerable. Material choices underscore the artwork and the emotions conveyed by it.
Loren Eiferman starts out each day with a walk in the woods to gather sticks that have fallen to the ground. The artist never cuts down a tree but looks for new shapes within each found branch. She cuts, joins, bends and sands the wood until the newly constructed piece of wood looks like it was “born” in nature. Frequently each piece has over a hundred smaller pieces of wood; the artist finishes the sculptures in different materials, sometimes using dyed sand, or a metal coating with a patina, or ashes or gold leaf.
David Licata’s stunning torched glass chain maille is delicate and translucent, contradicting the understood use and material of chain maille worn for body armor. Licata’s body of work is inspired by how things connect and the complexity of that interaction. The simplicity and complexity of the more elusive material of shadow patterns cast by the object become an integral and elusive part of the work.
Andrea Lillenthal is a nature lover and a lover of color. Her materials begin as organic matter; young trees, bamboo or roots, for example. The artist de-contextualizes the plants by removing them from their natural environment and imposing on them the artificiality of colored man-made paint. In her hands natural and plastic materials morph into mysterious and artificial totems.
Joanne Mattera’s Vicolo series is a luscious grouping of encaustic paintings. Each panel is built up in numerous layers and drawn or incised to reveal the history of the painting process. Encaustic is an ancient paintings material comprised of wax as binder for the colored pigment. Working serially is an important concept for the artist, as it allows for in depth investigation of an idea in addition to working in incremental parts of the formalist grid.
Patrica Miranda has developed a very personal way of employing powered graphite and gold leaf to create depth and luminosity in her paintings. The artist is a scholar of medieval painting, building and the sacred arts. Through deconstruction/reconstruction of ancient materials, Miranda re-examines her contemporary identity while continuing in a long tradition.
Michael Natiello uses both found and created artifacts in his three dimensional work. The history of the objects is crucial to the meaning of the finished artwork and while not always immediately evident, subtlety present in the sculptures. The artist blurs the line between what had gone before and what he has made anew. The materials can range from skulls to steel, cast concrete and feathers. The artist is involved in the process of assembling and editing material until a unique object emerges with its own meaning.
Christian Nguyen begins his process by drawing architectural forms in perspective. He pours a think layer of resin over the first drawn layer. When that is dry, he repeats the process, often painting perfect circles at the intersection of the line drawings, frustrating the viewer and blocking the view. This process is repeated many times, perhaps six or seven layers until the works become drawings, paintings and sculptures as once; objects that have real weight. As the artist experiments more and more with paint, materials and color his engagement with abstract and formal concepts of art evolves. And as he says, “I like building things.”
Jill Parisi aims to create a sense of wonder through her artistic practice; slowing down in the wake of the fast-paced lifestyles that most of us lead. Study of botanical and zoological texts and observations in the field inspire the fantastic flora and fauna inhabiting her installations. The printmaking processes she employs relies on a plate, mimicking the way species rely on genetic coding as a template for life forms. The natural beauty of handmade tissue-weight papers are an apt substrate for my prints, having been made from various indigenous plants and possessing a luminous, translucent quality. The resulting “species” are introduced into various settings, the components responding to new habitats, expanding or contracting in a given space. Many of the works on paper are also interactive as they respond to the flow of air within an exhibition space and are stirred into motion by the proximity of the viewer.
B. Avery Syrig uses natural materials, more akin to skin and hair, depict the intimate mark these forces have on the development and care of the self. Her current sculptures are made from de-constructed stretcher bars and picture frames - the materials of a traditional painter or artist. The tension created by taught lines straining to join together the elements are a metaphor for the body and the emotions.
Tricia Wright’s Domestic Animal series is comprised of small-scale mixed media sculptures that combine the softness of feathers with metal hardware and other materials. The nest-like forms conjure associations with the home; on closer examination these forms contain other elements that shift the initial reading of the object towards a more complex and ambiguous one.
Eleanor White’s work reflects her interest in using common objects, process, and found structures. The materials used in unusual ways that push the boundaries of one’s associations with them, and enjoy the context that comes out of using familiar, found, and mass-produced materials. Obsessive repetition and layering are often present; the process covers, reveals, erases and overlaps, building up a structure or isolating a single found element. Her large sculpture Dandelion Rug was started in 2003. The ephemeral work is perpetually in progress; each year in May the artists collects dandelion fluff to add to the work, ever increasing the spiral.
Kenise Barnes has been director and owner of Kenise Barnes Fine Art in Larchmont since 1994. The gallery mounts seven exhibitions annually and participates in art fairs in Miami, Santa Fe and New York. Ms. Barnes gained early experience as the Specialist in Charge of Contemporary Art at Christie’s East, a division of Christie, Manson and Woods International; with more that 20 years experience in the arts, including degrees in painting and women’s studies, she is a frequent guest curator, speaker and advisor.
Westchester Community College Fine Arts Gallery supports the teaching functions of the college with a diverse range of exhibitions, lectures, and colloquia. Exhibitions feature work by artists of regional, national, and international reputation who reflect the diversity of the college’s student body. The gallery also features exhibits of student and faculty work. This exhibition program is supplemented with periodic gallery talks by visiting artists and scholars. Gallery exhibitions and events are free and open to the public. By providing a space in which individuals from both within and without of the college community can gather for stimulation, reflection, and exchange, the Fine Arts Gallery strives to enhance Westchester Community College’s commitment to lifelong learning and community service.