Category: Artist Profiling

Artist Spotlight: Adam Shulman

posted by – 03/24/17 @ 2:56pm

Screen Shot 2017-03-24 at 2.53.35 PMAdam and Adama Shulman are fresh faces in fashion photography.  They live inspired lives, constantly creating photographic experiences that build upon their various cultural influences, having lived in New York City, West Africa, and the Middle East.

Adam Shulman is a self taught photographer specializing in both digital and medium format film. He has photographed everything from Arizona landscapes to fashion photography. His Senegalese wife, Adama, is a makeup artist, stylist, and model.  She has worked in Africa, Paris, and New York City, and acquired a background in editorial fashion.

Adam Shulman was born and raised in Nashville, TN. He is a board-certified medical physicist as well as a medical philanthropist, receiving his education at Vanderbilt University.  He has spent years working in and out of Africa training local doctors on modern cancer treatments as well as donating medical equipment. Living in Dakar, Senegal with his wife, Adam spent his time training medical staff, and just recently completed a year of medical training in Accra, Ghana. He has been immersed in African culture for nearly a decade, which serves as inspiration for his most recent body of work: Gold of Africa.

The title of the exhibition, Gold of Africa, equates Africa’s inhabitants to precious, stunning Gold. Shot with 6×7 film on a Mamiya RZ67 manual camera, African bodies are covered in gold, cracked earth, and bared in front of a dark background, creating narratives of overwhelming power and beauty.

Adam spent over a year working on this series, and in doing so, he managed to “capture the mass of an entire continent behind his models eyes or under the contours of each muscle and shadow.” The gold serves as a means of suffocation at times, yet also serves as an extension of each model’s body and soul.

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http://adamaphotographynyc.com

Sisavanh Phouthavong: Legacies of War

posted by – 03/22/17 @ 9:24am

legaciesofwar_300_7x3new-400x263Sisavanh Phouthavong is one of the first professional Lao American visual artists of her generation and a professor at MTSU. Characterized by bold colors and dynamic lines, her work in our show Legacies of War pays tribute to her Laotian roots.

Her current pieces are inspired by Legacies of War, an organization that endeavors to raise awareness about the Vietnam War-era bombings and advocates for the clearance of unexploded bombs in Laos. For Phouthavong, art has always been about exploring and understanding identity. Over 5,400 Lao refugees resettled in Kansas in the aftermath of the Laotian Civil War that ended in 1975. Phouthavong was a child when her family resettled in the U.S., and her current work not only addresses the cultural and socioeconomic challenges of being a refugee but also the feelings of displacement, confusion, and struggle to understand identity.

agentorange_300_8x8_web-800x778Phouthavong’s feelings of chaos are paralleled in both her process and final image. Her works start with an image of the Vietnam War and destruction using india ink and alcohol to achieve visual texture and effects. The images are often manipulated and photoshopped together and are then used as a reference but changes as she works. Phouthavong starts with spray paint and then goes into it with acrylic and adapts as she goes. Her process parallels her experiences as a refugee because she connects with photographic images to break them apart and reconstruct them, just as memories are fragmented and experiences are fleeting. Furthermore, the unpredictable painting process demands adaptability from the artist, reflecting assimilation into another culture. Thus, Phouthavong’s pieces both convey her experiences throughout the process and reflect her feelings of those personal memories through strong contrasting colors, dynamic lines, and disorienting composition.

It is important for Phouthavong as an artist to advocate for a cause and to open up a dialogue. “It is important for me to contribute as an artist, but more importantly to have a conversation about what is going on in the word – to not be ignorant, but open to all ideas.” Moreover, what Phouthavong loves most is when she is lost for hours just creating and being in the moment just making. She says, “I don’t ever want to completely figure it out technically or conceptually. The beauty of making is the seeking. I enjoy the challenge.”

Artist Spotlight: Anna Jaap

posted by – 02/28/17 @ 3:16pm

deep_blue_sea_48x48_acrylic_and_graphite_on_canvas_2016_jaap_copy_web-800x800 Anna Jaap received her BFA from Lipscomb and began as a printmaker before turning to painting and drawing. Today she employs a combination of these disciplines as she lives and works in Nashville. Although her work is fluid and constantly changing, they are all united by their reflection of the natural world and element of beauty.

Jaap’s newest series, Graffito, reflects intimacy of hand-written text. Each work is layered with repetitive writing to create woven environments akin to nests and forest floors. Inspiration for the series was drawn from the intimacy and connection that is inherent within hand-written texts. She explains, “I cherish letters and know the handwriting of people close to me as well as I know their faces. I’d been exploring ways of creating pattern in my work, and one day it came to me – this idea of layering script into organic color fields. So intimate and universal, all at once. It took my breath away.”

Each painting typically begins with a word, phrase, or poem fragment relating to nature. Color plays off of the text and Jaap graffito_series__snowfall_and_moonlight_48x48_acrylic_and_graphite_on_canvas_2016_jaap_web-800x800achieves a visual balance of color, forms and gestures by way of conversation with the canvas. Because each layer is thin and transparent, every mark and gesture is pivotal to the final piece. Whereas her previous series have dealt with botanical and organic forms in a literal representative form, Graffito explores pure emotion and pure beauty.

When Jaap is creating art, time slows down and she is able to step outside herself. She describes the time in her studio when everything comes together as “pure magic”. Ultimately, Jaap loves sending something beautiful and nurturing out into the world and wants the viewer to be able to wrap themselves in something precious and simply be. Her work is a fearless tribute to all things beautiful, and viewers are reminded that beauty is not only an enjoyable element in our lives but also a fundamental necessity.

Artist Spotlight: Mary Long

posted by – 02/07/17 @ 12:23pm

Snow Is On Its Way 48"x36" encaustic on panel

Snow Is On Its Way, 48″x36″ encaustic on panel

Mary Long was born in Ohio and has lived in Tennessee since the mid-1990s. She grew up near Canton, where there is a crazy-quilt patchwork of rural farms and factories. “It is a juxtaposition of abandoned industrial grayness against expanses of happy saturated colors that inspires my work to this day” Long says. She is self-taught in wax encaustic techniques and has been painting with wax encaustic almost exclusively for 12 years.

Long’s work begins with a color scheme and a skeleton of a composition. The artist then describes the rest of her process as a dialogue between herself and the painting. “I begin to have a back and forth conversation with the painting until it seems that the work is final, and nothing more appears to be said.” The encaustic technique involves creating a wax medium from melted beeswax and damar resin. The paint can then be shaped before it cools or manipulated afterward. Long fuses layers together with a heat gun and selectively scrapes or incises some areas. This process is labor intensive and repetitious, but is also, in a way, meditative for her.

 

 

Having worked with the encaustic technique for 15 years, Long has learned that the painting may go into a different direction than she originally envisioned, but trying to grip the steering wheel may lead to a ruined painting.“The biggest lesson in working with encaustic paintings,” she says, “is that it is best to follow suit rather than to try to take control.”

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Snow Is On Its Way 2, 48″x36″ encaustic on panel

 

Long’s work is a representation of her instinctive response to events of the day. When she first began painting, Long’s lines were straight edge slashes which she connected to a deep hidden anger. Over time, she feels that she has become more placid just as her paintings have gradually softened.

Particularly for the works in our current show, Long presents abstract landscapes that strive to tap into the subconscious and go beyond the surface. The encaustic technique is well-suited for Long’s desire for viewers to not only feel the splendor of colors but also to form an understanding of what lies underneath. The wax medium gives the paintings slight transparency and gives the surface texture, in order that viewers may be prompted to examine the work past the bright colors. According to Long, “A painting may have happy colors, yet worried lines and distressed shapes are clues to what lies beneath.”

 

Artist Spotlight: Martica Griffin

posted by – 01/24/17 @ 4:11pm

Dreamboat, 48"x48" acrylic and mixed media on canvas

Dreamboat, 48″x48″ acrylic and mixed media on canvas

Martica Griffin is a Nashville-based artist whose work is primarily abstract and figurative. She has been with Tinney Contemporary for over eight years and four of her works are currently being exhibited in the gallery’s new show, Women of Abstraction.

For the pieces in the exhibition, Griffin drew inspiration from children’s stories – “each with a positive message, strong rhythm, and great sense of humor. Some of the paintings are a bit more structured, others freer and flowing, but all with the same purpose – to stir up the imagination through color, line and texture.”

Her four exhibited paintings focus on having the same starting point and limited palette. Each work starts with intentional and organic black lines covered with a colored grid. This gives each piece a unique sense of energy and rhythm. The work is then built, layer upon layer, through painting, drawing, and scraping, until the completed piece is revealed. Characterized by energetic lines and bold colors, each piece should leave viewers with a smile.

Altered State, 47"x47" acrylic and mixed media on canvas

Altered State, 47″x47″ acrylic and mixed media on canvas

Although her current works utilize the same starting point, Griffin normally works with a continuously changing process. Sometimes her canvases are first filled with color, while other times the canvas is filled with marks or crazy textures using tape, spackle or thick gloss medium. Griffin’s desire to always try new ways of tackling the canvas drives her continuously evolving process and ever-changing way of viewing the world around her. For example, Griffin is currently working on a new body of work on paper that involves starting with offbeat materials and then depicting a figurative group using only large sharpies.

 

On the topic of producing art, Griffin believes creating work can sometimes be frustrating and unenjoyable but is ultimately rewarding. She says, “When I feel like something is finished, that’s the payoff. And when someone has one of my paintings in their home or office and it adds to their life, that’s the best.”

“Being a Painter in the Digital Media Age”

posted by – 09/08/16 @ 12:50pm

Artnet news published a beautifully written recount of an interview with young contemporary painter, Jessie Edelman, on being a painter in the digital media age.

Edelman’s painting is primarily influenced by impressionism – a genre of painting that deeply inspired her upon visiting the Art Institute of Chicago at a young age.  She uses this alongside her own unique brand of figuration to express emotion and contemplation on her textured canvases.  She describes her work as “painterly,” purposely exploring the materiality of her paint, leaving evidence of human touch.  In what Walter Benjamin described as “The Age of Mechanical Reproduction,” Edelman maintains her historic roots to combat the mechanization of imagery.  As Impressionists were exploring what it meant to paint with the birth of photography, Edelman contemplates what it means to create paintings in the age of social media.  She utilizes Instagram as a source of references for paintings, in which she often depicts figures sans technology – either bored of or engaged with the scenery.

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Edelman gives a mature reflection on how our phones drastically change the way we view the world.  We swipe through images, seldom ever appreciating their beauty for long, constantly cycling ahead for more content.  In Edelman’s paintings, the figures experience what she describes as “melancholia,” or a separation from the environment they find themselves in. The full Artnet article can be read here.

 

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Knowing her interest in how digital media affects our lives, this melancholy theme in her work leaves viewers to wonder whether their sense of detachment stems from simple contemplation, or their lack of digital media.  The paradox of social media is highlighted: It is meant for connection and sharing information, but it often distracts us from purer elements of living.  It even strips us of true alone time.  Are we truly disconnected without our phones? Has the age of digital media completely changed the way we interact with the real world?

Discovering Frank Larson: Found Photography from the 1950’s

posted by – 08/30/16 @ 2:49pm

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Upon his passing in 1964, an unopened box of Frank Larson’s negatives was left sitting in an attic for 64 years.  Grandson, Soren Larson, discovered this box, containing 100 carefully sorted and labeled envelopes.  He took on the task of digitizing the images and minimally editing them in photoshop. These images, along with their family history, can be viewed at franklarsonphotos.com.

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Frank Larson’s photographs give viewers a unique glimpse into the everyday life of New York City in the 1950’s.

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This dedication to his grandfather isn’t Soren’s only attempt to preserve his family’s art: He also compiled a website for his own father, David Larson.  Soren recounts, “My father also used to speak with admiration about his father’s love of photography and his weekend trips with his Rolleiflex into the city to film places like the Bowery, Chinatown and Times Square.” Perhaps these trips inspired David’s career as an artist.

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Soren proudly displays his father’s body of work – a dense, philosophically themed collection of drawings, paintings, and sculptures.

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Carla Ciuffo: Bridging the Gap Between Art and Science

posted by – 08/23/16 @ 4:31pm

“As we bridge the divide between art and science, my endeavor is to show how artists use science to make their fantasies real and palpable; and how science uses the arts in the same way.” -Carla Ciuffo

Leap of Faith

As an artist in residence at Harvard University, in collaboration with the Disease and Biophysics Group, Carla Ciuffo has developed a new project entitled, “Nano . Stasis Cosmic Garden & the Little Black Dress.”  Her recent series of work flaunts groundbreaking nanofiber technology in an effort to highlight a symbiosis between art and science.

magical formula

Tarr Family Professor of Bioengineering and Applied Physics, Kevin Kit Parker, Ph.D. has pioneered research involving rotary jet spinning production of nanofibers and fabrics. His nanfibers are a significant step forward in the realm of biomedical engineering.  This technology has the potential to be integrated into a broad spectrum of radical new applications, from tissue regeneration to advanced performance fibers in fashion.

Portrait, Kevin Kit Parker, Ph.D. 

Ciuffo had the honor of being the first layperson to work with Parker’s fibers.  Alongside graduate student, Nina Sinatra, Ciuffo has developed tiny nanofiber canvases to be imprinted with her own artwork.  Using a Scanning Electron Microscope, Ciuffo is able to create large acrylic composites to showcase the delicate and whimsical side of these fibers.  She’s also been developing portraiture of models wearing sharp angled garments, inspired by Cartesian geometries, to demonstrate the concept of “neurofashion” with nanofibers.  A combination of these artworks, paired with an educational component narrating the versatile technology of the new nanofibers composes this futuristic traveling multi-media exhibit.

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While art cannot directly communicate scientific fact, it is capable of creating dialogue.  Art challenges science to consider the role of its own narrative, as well as the visual impact of scientific images.  Art serves to recontextualize science, adding a conversation with cultural values.   Science often prescribes a systematic way of thought and communication, while the arts promote nontraditional and creative processes useful to research. The combination of the two subjects promotes their relevance and generates more impactful content.

Nano Fiber Universe

 


Carla Ciuffo’s “Will You Stay with Me? Until the Very End.” is currently on display as a part of the “A Decade in the Making” exhibition until September 17th, 2016. until_the_very_end_web-675x900

 

Discovering Jaq Belcher’s “Hidden Light”

posted by – 03/11/15 @ 4:35pm

Jaq Belcher’s newest exhibition Hidden Light is her second solo exhibition in the gallery, her first since 2011. Perhaps it is thousands of tiny shadows cast on the paper that create this “hidden light” referred to in the show’s title. Maybe, though, it refers to the contemplative nature of these meticulously hand-cut works. Jaq Belcher’s works “testify to the idea of ‘being’ in the moment, the idea of staying in the ‘now’, the ‘present.” Inspired by esoteric philosophy and the notion of converging ideas, these works beg the viewer to invest a patience and mental energy when viewing the work. At times, the dizzying array of cuts can seem overwhelming; an arrangement of shapes in all directions. After a time, though, they unite to form singular images characterized by the delicate play of light and shadow, and positive and negative space. It is in this moment, when the shapes converge into a whole, that this “hidden light” is revealed. The light might be embodied by an idea, a realization, or maybe the enlightenment or serenity that these works seem to bring those who stand before them.

Belcher’s framed works rest in delicate balance between two and three-dimensions. Though they are cut from a single sheet of paper, the raised pieces lend a dimensionality that is both physical and visual. Her installation piece, titled Lunar Codex, is a true three-dimensional work and was perhaps the most entrancing of any of the works on display during the First Saturday Art Crawl. The striking balance of light and shadow comes alive in the installation. Bringing elements of the physical space together through an arrangement of 70,000 of her cut paper “seeds” on the floor and a mesmerizing rectangular prism suspended from the ceiling, Belcher gives life to the “hidden light” she wants the viewer to find in her pieces through this work. It seems that these works are present with the viewer, engaging in a dialogue that evokes a sense of serene contemplation; a contemplation that is certain to yield rewards of discovery, in the work as well as for the self.

"Lunar Codex" installation at the March Art Crawl

 

Carla Ciuffo’s Stasis: Heavenly Bodies

posted by – 01/05/15 @ 6:25pm

There is an air of mystery in the captivating pieces currently hanging in Tinney Contemporary. We were lucky enough to learn more about Stasis: Heavenly Bodies from an exclusive Q & A interview with the artist, Carla Ciuffo.

 

Part of the mystery in Ciuffo’s work possibly comes from the medium she used to print her images on.


M: You’ve worked with printing your images on many different surfaces, why did you find printing Heavenly Bodies on acrylic to be the best medium?

C: I really wanted to enhance the negative space in the images – so the art wouldn’t be confined. I also wanted to “project” them as far as I could without using traditional 3D methods. The acrylic creates depth, and expands the negative space. It’s clean, minimal, and allows the images to “float” a bit away from a wall.

 

Texts also heavily influenced the elements that work through her pieces.


M: As many of your works involve lyrical imagery, what narrative pieces inspire you the most? Are there particularly poets, authors, or playwrights that you found especially stirring in relation to Heavenly Bodies?

C: Perhaps. I am a voracious reader. Non-worldly stories influence me. Neil Gaiman, a favorite. There was also one book I was reading when I began working on Stasis, The Lace Reader, by Brunonia Barry:

“There is lace in every living thing: the bare branches of winter, the patterns of clouds, the surface of water as it ripples in the breeze…. Even a wild dog’s matted fur shows a lacy pattern if you look at it closely enough.” ― Brunonia Barry, The Lace Reader

“I’ll pit my God against your god any day, I say to the Calvinists. It’s not their god I’m praying to…. The God I’m praying to is neither male nor female. My God is the one who exists apart from all of men’s agendas, the God who takes you away when there is no possible place you can go.” ― Brunonia Barry, The Lace Reader

 

The illustrative manner of this body of works is evident throughout the collection and many of Ciuffo’s other works. However, Stasis appears more monochromatic in comparison to Ciuffo’s more colorful bodies of work such as Thrill, Pandora’s Box, and, Cloud 9.


M: How was creating Heavenly Bodies different and/or similar from past works?

C: When I began working on Stasis, it became an exercise in restraint. I began stripping away color. I was searching for the essence of an emotion – the emotion that was driving the work. Stasis became a neutral, non-judgmental place of refuge. A place with infinite possibilities but remaining an “in between” space. I like to call the series “life in between”.

…The most difficult work, for me, is paring it down to its simplest form. That’s Stasis.

 

Though Ciuffo worked to construct an image in its simplest form, she doesn’t necessarily expect everyone to experience the same feelings from viewing it.

 

M: What would you like for viewers to collectively feel and take from Heavenly Bodies?

C: That is entirely up to the viewer. I’ve enjoyed people sharing their viewing experiences with me – and they are all different. One common collective emotion that people seem to feel is a calming feeling. But – with a dash of uncertainty.

 

The artist uniquely defined Stasis: Heavenly Bodies for us, the way she herself views the collection.

 

M: How would you best describe Heavenly Bodies in your own words?

C: Finding positive in a negative space. A moment of total and absolute stillness in a non-judgmental atmosphere. A refuge of sorts before taking the inevitable next steps back into life.

 

And we have much to look forward to from Ciuffo…

 

M: Finally, are there any new projects that you are currently working on? If so, do you feel comfortable sharing with us any details about them?

C: I am working on a new collaboration for a much larger installation. It would bring “Stasis” to life. The images are of tiny, mostly androgynous pod people – that reside in a garden. Let’s just say those are the “seeds” of the project