Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Cultivated Works: Victoria McAlister & Jen McKnight

by Jennifer Weigel

"Cultivated Works: Victoria McAlister & Jen McKnight"
Three Sinks Gallery, Webster Groves, Missouri
June 12-July 25, 2009

Victoria McAlister. Greater Light 7. Woodcut, Collage on Paper. 12"x12".

Process, layering and the handling of materials can be of special interest when looking at contemporary printmaking, and "Cultivated Works: Victoria McAlister & Jen McKnight" further exemplifies this. Taking inspiration from the natural world, both artists are attentive to details and evoke a sense of intimacy that draws the viewer in.

Victoria McAlister. Lace Landscape 4. Woodcut, Collage on Paper. 12"x12".

Victoria McAlister’s works suggest an acute observation of the botanical world, incorporating imagery that is reflective of both plant life & growth and of cellular & internal structures. This sensibility is further enhanced by McAlister’s palette of rich earthy tones. Her attention to detail is apparent in her choice of papers and textural surface treatments layering and piecing together collagraph & woodcut printings with stitching and other embellishments. Works such as those in the Lace Landscape and the Greater Light series offer a sense of place eliciting feelings of proximity and familiarity without being obviously referential.

Jennifer McKnight. Hot House Series, 2009, Silk Screen. 30" x 22".

Jen McKnight’s Hot House serigraphs are reminiscent of biological forms such as flowers, feathers, and even internal organs. Her imagery appears to be floating in space and evokes a sense of the unknown, like marine life yet waiting to be discovered. The intensity of both color and composition is immediately apparent, and the images themselves seem almost alive with their vibrancy. Further embellishments with drawing, stitching and alternative processes bespeak a softness that is not entirely expected. While this may seem like a whisper compared to the vibrancy of both color and composition overall, it lends an intimacy to these pieces that draws the viewer in.

Jennifer McKnight. Hot House Series, 2009, Silk Screen. 30" x 22".

In addition to the recent works by Victoria McAlister and Jen McKnight, Three Sinks Gallery has on display a selection of tiles and vases by Sandre Griffin. These pieces relate to the exhibition through the rich contrast and layered effects attained in the sgraffito technique and by further exploring the natural world with depictions of birds, butterflies and human forms amongst plant growth. Several works reflect upon the bond between mother and child and the connectedness we have to nature, in many ways bespeaking the need to preserve the natural environment for future generations. Griffin helps to tie McAlister’s and McKnight’s sensibilities together by providing a third lens through which the viewer can experience nature, both in regards to the imagery presented and in regards to the media itself.

Jennifer McKnight. Hot House Series, 2009, Silk Screen. 30" x 22".

The layering and softness of imagery and sense of the natural world in "Cultivated Works: Victoria McAlister & Jen McKnight" suits the Three Sinks Gallery space, fostering a sense of intimacy and encouraging the viewer to spend time studying individual artworks and their intricacies. This is a show worth lingering at in order to fully explore the details.

"Cultivated Works: Victoria McAlister & Jen McKnight" remains on view through July 25, 2009. Three Sinks Gallery is located at 8715 Big Bend Boulevard in Webster Groves, MO 63119. 314/963-3448.

Jennifer Weigel is a St. Louis-based multi-media artist. A member of Art Saint Louis, she serves on our Program Committee. Her works are currently on view in “Women Are Goddesses,” at Soulard Art Market Contemporary Art Gallery, St. Louis, MO (through July 5) and "Feminine Perspective II" at the Black Door Gallery in Cape Girardeau, MO (July 3-31). In addition to the current exhibits, an original painting by Jennifer is making its debut as a “Collector’s Series” wine label on Les Bourgeois Vineyards’ 2008 Vignoles-Traminette. A wine release party & art exhibit will be held at Les Bourgeois Vineyards, Rocheport, MO from 2 to 7 p.m. , Saturday, July 18, 2009.