Capacity of Color – Class Curated Art Show at PAFA

During the spring semester of 2019 I was enrolled in a class called Exhibitions & Curatorial Visions taught by artist Alexis Granwell. Our assignment was to come up with an art show concept, put out a call for art, curate and install in PAFA’s Anne Bryan Gallery.

We chose the broad theme of color, choosing to privilege this element over all others and titled it Capacity of Color. Every student in the class took on a specific job that goes into throwing a successful art show. I did most of the advertisement collateral: art show flyer, instagram images, press release design and so on.

Capacity of Color was an overall cohesive and successful exhibition. The space, a basement gallery with low ceilings and no natural light, was used effectively. The low placement of many of the displayed sculptures, cleverly created an intimacy between the viewer and art. Other installations, like Suji Kanneganti and Jessica Aquino’s fabric pieces, flowed from floor to ceiling to create an effective upward flow, leading the eye from the floor pieces to the two-dimensional works on the walls.

There was a large number of small pieces in the show, stand alone and in groupings. I believe, if installed in a standard way, the pieces would have been overwhelmed, but instead, they were staggered which helped make a more interesting space and saved each piece from being swallowed by the white walls and basement shadows.

There were a few pieces in the show that I did not feel played well with the rest of the show, and if I was able to change things, I would have left some works out and instead juried other submissions in. I believe that the less representational works were, the more they fit into the overall exhibition.

I learned a lot from the experience and will jump at chances to curate in the future.

The Capacity of Color is a student-curated
exhibition of sculpture, site-specific installation,
painting, drawing, printmaking, and works on paper
from the Brodsky Center Archive. This exhibition deals
with 2D and 3D work that communicates the language
of color in terms of the optical, the symbolic, the
aggressive, the delicate, and the tactile. This grouping
of work pushes the boundaries of the capacity of color
in an expansive and exciting way.

Exhibiting Artists:
Alicia Greco – Ashley Garner – Bernadette Colburn
Bryon Kim – Claire Tenhula – Emma Keller – Iris Padilla
Isabelle Schipper – Jessica Aquino – JP Calabro
Kelly Micca – Kemeys Goethe – Kiki Smith – Nasir Young
Neill Catanguy – Rebecca Giles – Sally Richards
Shane Lowder – Suji Kanneganti – Jiatong Tian

Unicorns – More Childhood Scribblings

You can practically hear the dot matrix printer grinding away when looking at these pages!

While in elementary school(Garrettford Elementary was a Great Place to Grow!), I participated in some creative writing classes. Our county schools also participated in a program/contest called The Young Authors, where every year kids submitted stories they wrote, which were then judged by grade. I loved it and won several times.

This little book, which I never finished the drawings for all the pages, was from a summer creative writing class. I was likely in 3rd grade at the time. I was really excited when I found this in a box at my parents house. It’s been interesting to see that the themes in my paintings go back so far. Unicorns and skulls.

It’s clear I loved fantasy as a child. My favorite toys were My Little Pony dolls, She-Ra and my Rainbow Brite. This little book was probably a result of watching The Last Unicorn. I also was obsessed with Unico. It was life changing when that came on the Disney channel.

POSING FOR ARTIST ANGELA CUNNINGHAM

When I first moved to Western North Carolina I was studying full-time and didn’t have time for a regular job. To earn some extra spending cash, I posed regularly for local artists and drawing groups. I haven’t had the time to do it much lately. Being employed makes it difficult to be on call, but lately I have been sitting for artist and my former instructor, Angela Cunningham.

It’s a slow process but an amazing one to see come together. Every step is important in order to create a successful end product, which is in this case, a large format all graphite drawing, and perhaps also an oil painting. She’s done a few color studies, one of which is shown below.


As a figure model, I never have much expectation or investment in the work completed based on my posing. I know it’s not about me. It doesn’t hurt my feelings if the likeness isn’t there, or if it’s not particularly flattering, but sitting for Angela has been a unique pleasure because of her skill. It’s one of the few times I’ve allowed myself some satisfaction and expectation for the final piece. I can’t wait to see how it turns out and feel honored to be a part of her body of work.

Below is one of my favorite pieces of her work. It is titled Silence. I love this painting not just because it’s beautiful, or that I’m partial to skulls, but also because the moth in the lower right hand corner is a polyphemus moth I found fluttering while it died on a hot night the first summer I had moved here. It reminds me of how exciting that time was and how beautiful, for both good and bad reasons, my experience here has been.

The skeleton follows me – young author’s aware

I went to a wonderful grade school, Garrettford Elementary, in Drexel Hill, PA, that focused on creative activities for their students from the visual arts to music. Every year and for every grade our school district held the Young Author’s Award competition, where children focused on creative writing and coming up with their own stories. The teachers even printed up our stories, let us illustrate them, and bound them. We felt published!

Below is a gallery of my entry for my 3rd grade class. Those are my drawings as well. I won! I’m still proud of myself! I feel that in today’s world I would have been sent for psychiatric treatment after my teachers read my story. No one shamed me for my little girl macabre sensibilities. I was encouraged. And I still like skulls.

Burnished Vignettes – Contemporary Inspiration

I have a tendency to drown in other’s work. I have a hard time balancing being inspired and being paralyzed by how beautiful by it. There are more working artists now than any other time in history and all competing for an audience. Below are some of my latest or long time favorites. 

All the below pieces are produced by contemporary artists I admire. They all inhabit a similar space in me in how I categorize artists and work. All very different but stir up similar feelings. Contemporary and antique. Like opening an old book full of yellowed pages and secrets.

I feel that all these works are successfully part of the long conversation of art history. They look backwards and forward.

They remind me of looking into a miniature diorama, a view finder, all a scene of a single piece of work or play. They also seem to share a similar balance of warm and cold golden browns. 

I’m going to try to blog more about my influences as a way to organize my own thoughts and to help me understand what it is what I want to achieve as well.

Flow and Ebb – Life on the French Broad

Life is different. Life is interesting. Life is a bit hard to keep up with.

I’m on my last month of officially studying with Angela Cunningham at Marshall High Studios. It’s time to find a full time job and figure out a schedule to allow me to continue self study. I believe I will stay in Marshall for the time being. I like the quiet and slower pace. Things aren’t frantic here. I feel myself slowing down as well. A sense of urgency will always be part of me, but it is nice living somewhere that doesn’t exacerbate it. This place is full of quiet moments of meaning. Or maybe it’s just helping me focus on the moments that are already there but that I usually miss.

I love the sound of the French Broad river always rushing within ear shot. I’ve never lived somewhere that has smelled so sweet. The spring flowers have melted like heated sugar, but now summer blooms like orange lilies and trumpet flowers are replacing them. I may be alone much of the time, but there are always lightening bugs to keep me company.

I’ve met good people. My studio mate Dan has been a great comfort and an easy friend. My roommates, Frank(another amazing artist) and Zane, have been a wonderful surprise. Having Chelsey, a friend from Norfolk, here eased my transition.

To help fund good times and my coffee needs I’ve been posing for drawing groups in the evenings, specifically for Lawter Studios and Ben Long’s drawing group. It’s been an interesting experience being on the other side of the canvas. It’s a valuable lesson. I have found figure modeling easy in surprising ways and extremely hard in others. My feelings of exposure disappeared almost immediately. I came to realize that modeling for a drawing group is not about me at all. It’s the parts, not the sum of them. 

I’ve learned a lot, and very quickly, drawing with Angela. I have learned to appreciate and maybe even like graphite when before I avoided it in favor of charcoal. In the past I have been very heavy handed while drawing. I always seemed to be scoring the surface of my paper. While here I have grown more delicate with the pressure I use while drawing. My perception of value has always been a big source of frustration for me. I have by no means fixed this problem, but have made the steps towards increasing my sensitivity to it. I’m physically stronger as well. In the past I haven’t made myself stand while drawing. I’m required to now. At first the pain in my back and legs was distracting, but it eventually eased off. I’m stronger. I see more clearly. I translate. I’ve taken painful steps in the right direction.

I wasn’t sure how I would handle drawing bargue plates and doing cast drawings. They seemed inaccessible before coming here. I didn’t understand the process. Now, while not terribly skilled yet, I feel like I have the tools and vocabulary to unlock this mysterious method of learning. There is nothing magic about it. Just like most things, it’s hard work and discipline, but possible. Feeling that it’s possible makes all the difference. I have less fear.

I miss my friends in Norfolk and Philly. I miss my step children and life in Virginia, but I am also happy.

Heads on Tables – Learning Classical Drawing Techniques

It’s over. I am done studying at TCC. Almost. I still need to take an algebra test…damn it.

This semester I took supervised study in drawing, hence all the photos of charcoal drawings, and to finish it up I spent the past week with Chicago artist(and former VA Beach resident) Brett Edenton. It was a valuable experience to study with someone, even if just for a week, with a specific goal. In many ways it made things more comfortable. He could tell me when I was doing something wrong and it not be open to interpretation. This wasn’t about creativity. It was about seeing and technical skill and it’s exactly what I wanted and made me eager to continue this path. That said, I didn’t do everything that was suggested. I tried to take advice and pick up tips and skill while not losing my own methods that seem to work for me.

I believe I’ve touched on it before, but I want representational skills. I want those skills to make my work, whether it be figurative or not, more convincing.

It was beneficial to not be able to dodge someone’s attention while drawing. At first I was self conscious, and while that feeling lingered, it was good for me not to disappear in a classroom of other students. Having someone watch you draw can be very scary. It reveals how you think…or how you don’t think.

This isn’t a masterpiece, but it’s a step in the right direction. I hope my touch and eye will grow more sensitive as time and practice pass. I enjoyed that the project was to draw more heads on tables, something I already seem to like to do.

I also stopped in at the Chrysler Museum of Art before it shuts down for renovations and met this painting I had never noticed before. I call it The Log Lady of Norfolk, but it’s really a painting by Hugues Merle French (1823-1881) called The Lunatic of Étretat (1871, oil on canvas).

I love it. It’s hard to see, but her eyes almost glow red and her hair is drifting away like smoke. Plus it reminds me of Twin Peaks and that’s always a plus.