Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Artist Interviews from the "Blur" exhibit

by Jacqueline Klene

Awards of Excellence Interviews

Art Saint Louis’ current juried exhibit, "Blur," features works by approximately 60 talented artists from the St. Louis area. Of those, five artists' works were selected to receive Awards of Excellence (Ashley Drissell, Naxin Fan, Christine Giancola, Joe Johnson, Nichole Lance) and one was awarded an Honorable Mention (Miguel de Aguero).

Before the exhibition officially opened (and before Awards were selected), Robin Hirsch, ASL’s Artistic Director, asked me to look at the works in the show and find the pieces that I thought were strong, clearly embraced the theme of "Blur," and select those works I believed had the potential to be Awarded. From there, I interviewed the artists about their work. Two of the artists that I happened to talk to earned Awards of Excellence: Ms. Naxin Fan and Ms. Ashley Drissell.

Naxin Fan. Leopard Man. 2012. Gunpowder Drawing, 50”x86”.

Naxin Fan’s piece, Leopard Man, is a truly unique work. One of the largest pieces in the exhibit, this gunpowder drawing really grabbed my attention when I saw it for the first time. Using a variety of natural elements like beeswax in combination with the gunpowder, “those blur images become clear to me,” says Naxin. The piece itself embodies the physical theme of "Blur" as well as the mentality behind it, too. Naxin continues discussing her references to the theme of "Blur," “the Leopard Man, is it a leopard or a man? Is the fire going to destroy it or is it set them to rebirth… there is no clear answer for where, why, what and how.” The simple beauty in nature inspires her work. She chooses subjects that give way to the imagination and “let the viewer transform the work… and become a part of it.”

Ashley Drissell. 1651 Sugar Grove Ct. 2011. Porcelain, Wood, Lazertran Decal, Pillows, 76”x33”x33”.

Ashley Drissell’s work, 1651 Sugar Grove Ct., takes the theme of "Blur" to a whole new level and really finds an original way to express it. This piece constantly offers new things for the viewer to find and discover. Constructed with porcelain tile, wood, lazertran decal, and pillows, this piece is an attention getter right away. However, it continues to keep your attention with its many layers and the use of text and imagery. 1651 Sugar Grove Ct. utilizes mixed media to execute the narrative element of art. In reference to her piece and the theme of "Blur," she says that her “work addresses the idea of memory…our memories are fuzzy. My memory is certainly unreliable.” When asked about how relatable she thinks her work is, she replied, “I think my work is very personal, but within the personal is a dialogue which is universal.” That statement could not be more accurate.

Additional Artist Interviews from "Blur"

With so many excellent pieces in the exhibit, there was no way I could have just picked two artists to interview. I was also fortunate enough to have the opportunity to speak with "Blur" artists Joyce Trotter, Josh Mann, and Suzy Farren.

Joyce Trotter. Venice Canal. 2012. Photograph, Lenticular, 26”x37”.

Joyce Trotter’s work, Venice Canal, is one of my favorite pieces in the gallery to watch as other people look at the artwork. Trotter created this work as a lenticular image because, as she notes, “Blur"extends the normal sharp lines to possible movement. Thus lenticular image extends the edges of an image.” Her subject matter is easily relatable. The romantic image of Venice and the gorgeous colors create an inviting image, and, with that, create a definite mood that Joyce strives for.

Josh Mann. The Little Blue Rectangle. 2010. Acrylic on Wood, 42”x24”.

Josh Mann’s piece, The Little Blue Rectangle, is a piece that I can’t look away from… partially because it is right in front of my desk but also because of his fantastic use of layering the chaotic explosion of colorful curvilinear lines. As an artist, Mann wants to “visually tease and entertain the (viewer’s) mind.” It fits in quite nicely with the theme of "Blur" and the other selected pieces even though he might not understand why. “Galleries decided what is and isn’t fitting… so I’ll leave these blurry intricacies up to them.” And lucky for him, we have some wonderful jurors to take care of that.

Suzy Farren. The Writing is on the Wall, you just can’t see it. 2012. Mixed Media, 19”x18”.

Finally, Suzy Farren’s piece, The Writing is on the Wall, you just can’t see it, is really intriguing and visually interesting and full of texture. Farren states: “My work is about laying down something and then covering it up; laying something else down, covering it up and … wiping away… to reveal what remains… a blur.” She uses found objects and complies them to create something truly unique and full of character. Never creating anything precise, her work truly showcases the wonder of the creative process, which she says can take a year or longer and even then, who knows?”

This exhibit is full of wonderful pieces which everyone and their brother should come see!

"Blur" is presented at Art Saint Louis through July 26, 2012. Gallery is free & open to the public M & Sat. 10 a.m.-4 p.m., Tu-Fr 10 a.m.-5 p.m. Closed Sundays & holidays. Art Saint Louis is located at 555 Washington Avenue, #150, St. Louis, MO. 314/241-4810. www.artstlouis.org

Jacqueline Klene is currently serving as Summer 2012 Intern at Art Saint Louis.  Jacqueline is a student at Bradley University in Peoria, Illinois where she is pursuing a Bachelor’s degree in drawing with a minor in Spanish.

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