Tag: Contemporary Art

Fictions

posted by – 10/27/17 @ 2:39pm

 

"Fictions" at the Studio Museum. Photo Courtesy of the Studio Museum.

“Fictions” at the Studio Museum. Photo Courtesy of the Studio Museum. Click to Enlarge.

Recently, as a Senior Art Major at Vanderbilt University, I had the great honor of taking an educational trip to New York City with my classmates, courtesy of the Hamblet Family Endowment. One of the most influential exhibitions I got to see was Fictions, at the Studio Museum in Harlem.   Fictions is a survey of recent artwork by a group of young artists of African descent living and working in the United States. The show was curated by Associate Curator, Connie H. Choi,  and Assistant Curator, Hallie Ringle.  In an interview with artsy.net, Connie Choi reveals that they didn’t approach this show with a particular theme in mind. Instead, they found that certain themes kept coming up in their search through artists and their studio visits.  These young artists consistently engage in creating alternative narratives that harken back to personal experiences, historical references, and the deep roots of racism in America. Honestly, every single artwork in this show is remarkable. The focus of this week’s blog will be on one particularly inspirational artist/Wonder Woman: Amy Sherald.

The Make Believer (Monet's Garden) by Amy Sherald

The Make Believer (Monet’s Garden) by Amy Sherald

The Boy with No Past by Amy Sherald

The Boy with No Past by Amy Sherald

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

On display in the exhibition, are two of Amy Sherald’s paintings. Acutely aware of the scarcity of black faces in art history, Ms. Sherald exclusively paints African Americans.  Her characters are painted in a stylized realistic portrait format, with a grayish skin tone contrasted by vibrant patterned clothing on a flat plane.  Her subjects stand firm and calm, but there is no denying that there’s something powerful and evocative about their spirit.  Although the color palette and attire reflect contemporary choices, her figures stand in a timeless world.  They muster up conversations about both history and the future.

Ms. Sherald’s art has recently catapulted her toward phenomenal success.  Her career was interrupted quite a few times, having been diagnosed with congestive heart failure as she was finishing up her master’s degree.  Later, she took a break from school to care for ill family members back home in Georgia.  Having also lost her father and brother to illness, Sherald serves as nothing less than an inspiration to everyone around her, continuing to push through adversity and maintain compassion for those less fortunate in her community.  According to an interview for the New York Times, Ms. Sherald is not very far at all from the days of waiting tables to pay for a studio with no heat or air conditioning.  Nevertheless, she plans to financially support those in need within her region once she pays off her school loans and medical bills.

Having recently entered the world of international distinction in art, her paintings have been acquired by museums such as the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African American History and Culture, the National Portrait Gallery, and the Nasher Museum of Art at Duke University.  It is with incredible honor that Ms. Sherald has recently been commissioned to paint former First Lady, Michelle Obama’s official portrait.  This is the first time that black artists have been chosen to paint presidential portraits, and this commission certainly has profound historical significance for the Nation. Amy Sherald is an artist who proudly paints African Americans, and Ms. Obama has momentously chosen to break away from the conventional portrait tradition and declare pride in such a rich and beautiful culture.

Meet Jan!

posted by – 07/19/17 @ 1:50pm

This summer is full of (somewhat) new faces at the Tinney Contemporary! We are thrilled to welcome back Jan DeLozier who interned with us in 2013 who will now be working as our gallery assistant! We are so excited to be working with her again and want you to get to know a little bit about her! Here’s a little bit about Jan written by Jan herself!

“Hello hello ciao hello.

My name is Jan DeLozier & it feels good to be back at Tinney Contemporary. Susan and Sarah were just the sweetest to have me as an intern here at the gallery, alongside my good friend Alex Penn (hi, Alex!), back in 2013. We sometimes had to beg people to come to the Art Crawls, but oh man did we have fun shows! Through the years, I’ve always kept up with the crew here and now I am back in Nashville helping do the gallery-thing!

In between then and now, I graduated from Sewanee: The University of the South where I studied Art History and Women’s and Gender Studies. Upon graduation, I moved in with my fabulous Godmother and helped take care of her adorable dogs. Later that summer, things got serious and I attended a Scholars program at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business where I studied Finance, Accounting, and Marketing. Just before Chicago’s wind became too bitter, I moved to Venice, Italy where I worked at the Peggy Guggenheim Collection. My work there was dynamic as I  gave presentations, sold tickets, completed condition reports, assisted in education courses, and repeated the lines “please, don’t touch” in as many languages I could remember. From the city on the water, I then moved to the high prairie desert of Marfa, Texas, where I worked at the Chinati Foundation. I worked alongside some rock stars within the Development office, also giving tours and assisting with conservation 😉 and education 🙂

When I am not at Tinney Contemporary, you can probably find me barefoot in a yard somewhere. Happy to be here and happy to help- come by and say hi y’all!”

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“The Prophet’s Library” by Wesley Clark

posted by – 06/16/17 @ 11:23am

Wesley Clark’s show “The Prophet’s Library” is deeply engrained with symbolism, metaphor, and his experience as an African American male in this country. He began this body of work by making a stream of consciousness list of words that came to him when he thought about his experience which culminated in “Table of Contents”. He created this list of words that now make up the top of the crossword before writing out the clues which allowed him to expand what could be a clue for each word. The words are also grouped together in order to create links and imagery that can be tracked throughout the rest of the show. He invites our imaginations to move piece to piece stitching together the narrative of this prophet. With the series of books that inspired the show title he presents the audience with four cases designed to hold books yet to be written. The exterior of each of these books has been carved, painted, and stained to be representative of the made up titles on the front. What is exciting about these titles, and subsequently these carvings, is that these can be seen as revisions of the current history or simply retellings of those narratives from perhaps a more accurate perspective. This is especially true with “Master Sowers” as it is analyzing the creation of civilization. One side contains an image of Lake Tana which is the source of the Nile river in Egypt which many can argue was the seedbed for civilization and technology as we know it. While the other side depicts two hands holding a mound of dirt with fists erupting from that dirt surrounded by a few symbols including an arrow and some stars. The idea behind this is that once you can defend yourself you can start to think about stars, science, etc. Another piece that spurs our imaginations is the “My Beautiful Black Unicorn(s)”. Which once agains plays with our imagination as well as historical references. Each horn is engraved with the name of slave revolt leaders including: Nat Turner, Denmark Vessey, and Toussaint L’Overture. In theory, these people are unicorns in that they should never have existed in the world in the role of revolutionist. Many people believe that the unicorn was the East Indian Rhino but through word of mouth that narrative was skewed leaving us with the mysterious unicorn we know today. This degradation of the truth can also be tracked onto the experience of the African American as they are often portrayed in the media in a negative light. Each piece in this show has layers and layers of meaning that require the viewer to approach the work with a willingness to spend time with the work. Time spent looking at this show is extremely rewarding as there are so many hidden gems of powerful text, image, or symbol that are lost with a superficial viewing. Wesley has created a show and a body of work that is imaginative, powerful, and truly meaningful within the social and political climate of today.

Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors at the Frist

posted by – 01/27/17 @ 5:00pm

ragnar

Ragnar Kjartansson’s The Visitors is a nine channel video installation arranged in a black room on the second floor of the Frist.  Each camera is positioned in one of forty-three rooms in a historic mansion in New York, where Ragnar Kjartansson and seven friends begin a musical performance sitting alone in eight individual rooms.  The ninth camera is focused on the back porch of the house where a large group of people are sitting.

The musicians listen to the group via a pair of headphones, accompnaying Kjartansson on a cello, piano, drum set, banjo, accordion, and guitar. Without visual cues from their fellow performers, the begin to play a very complex and long musical composition. The song itself ebbs and flows in emotional crescendos and diminuendos.  Kjartansson pulls inspiration from Icelandic poet, Ásdís Sif Gunnarsdóttir, borrowing lines from her work, including the performance’s haunting mantra: “Once again, I fall into my feminine ways.”

The music evolves from meditative and melancholic to a thunderous intensity. Lasting for about an hour and a half, the song is full of quiet, mysterious, contemplative moments, alongside loud, emotional outbursts.  With each artist playing in isolation, the piece explores ideas of relationships and collaboration. The length of the performance alone lends itself to contemplating endurance in production and spectating.

Eventually, characters on each screen interact with each other and move between films.   While the characters walk from screen to screen, the audience moves to follow, blurring the line between audience and performance.  As the video ends, each performer gathers in a single room, where they migrate out of the home, continuing their melody into the distance of the Hudson River Valley.

Frist Center Chief Curator, Mark Scala, says that Kjartansson “…pushes the limits of endurance for himself and his collaborators, he congenially accepts that audiences will come and go as they please, experiencing the work in its entirety or in brief episodes. But…the reward of extended viewing is a heightened perception of differences in the repetition of a scene, musical phrase, or physical action. The whole world is contained in these variations.

The Visitors is certainly worth staying to view the entire performance.  The music is captivating, and the composition in its entirety is a romantic, mournful rhapsody.  It manages to become a portrait of the audience as well as the performers, showcasing their unique personalities and relationships, perhaps mirroring our own.  The immersive installation will certainly leave you feeling enchanted.

The Frist is currently offering free admission to view The Visitors until February 9th, 2017 while they are transitioning exhibitions.

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.”

“Somewhere in the Brain”

posted by – 07/16/13 @ 2:13pm

Artists, critics, curators, gallerists, auctioneers, and collectors analyze contemporary art to bring forth its relevance and expose its fundamental nature, such as the medium or symbolism. On the other hand, the general public’s reaction to contemporary art provides a socially conscious response that incorporates contemporaneity with time, place, and ethics. Both viewers engage, but which is the “right” way to perceive contemporary art?

Patricia Bellan- Gillen’s “Disorderly Notions,” on display now here at Tinney Contemporary, employs the art of perception itself. The artist relies on all viewers to narrate her works, pulling from their own anecdotal memories. I overheard many art crawlers at the July Art Crawl ask, “what does this mean?” or “why does she use this specific motif?” The analytical essay spelling out the symbolic truths and answering such fundamental questions does not exist in this case.

“Somewhere in the brain” begins the artist’s exhibition write-up, enhancing the elusive and ambiguous scenes. The scale of Patricia Bellan- Gillen’s work demands attention and her use of mixed media compliment the multi-layered function of her work.

I recently read, “Any art that relies on an essay to explain it is not art,” holding true to Patricia’s theory of thriving on the inexplicable, the intuitive, and the enigmatic. The artist calls welcomes such provocation and puzzlement, placing trust in the viewer to simply react. Therefore, it is fitting that “Disorderly Notions” will remain on display for the August Art Crawl, inviting all contemporaries to not ask, but tell.