January 31 - February 25
Pictures of No Things
Myra Clark — Blue, acrylic inks, 30" x 22"
There’s a certain pressure about creating art, the notion that as an artist you must create something significant, earth shattering, and world changing. That art is about making something definitive, absolute, transcendent, and incandescent. I confess that I tend to hold those notions lightly and practice sidestepping them completely in this particular body of work. Instead, I create “no things,” drawings and paintings that have no intended significance or meaning and are not created to be “some thing.” This frees me to emphasize my enthusiasm for mark-making, color choices, and compositional decision-making while putting aside recognizable imagery. Created over the past six years alongside other projects, these works on paper are composed of multiple layers of sumi, acrylic and India inks, and watercolor. The paintings and drawings show off my favorite mark-making tools, including Chinese calligraphy, ceramic slip, and acrylic varnish brushes. Lately I have also been exploring surface choices and am in love with rice and mulberry papers.
What most people first notice about my artwork is the variety of materials used. My artistic practice is rooted in constant experimentation. It is probably a form of escapism. Exploring new materials prompts me to stay flexible and creatively engaged, and motivates me to work relentlessly. What surprises me, when I eventually pause and reflect, is just how many connections and common elements begin to become apparent, regardless of medium. There is a great comfort in seeing these connections. Sometimes these seem like clues left behind by my subconscious that all add up to some kind of mysterious answer that I can almost glimpse. Except it is more than that, because the answer isn’t really the point at all; the point is that I don’t really need to struggle so much with finding my way. I can relax and trust my intuition to guide the journey. Whether the vessel for that journey is made of stone, wood, fiber, photographs, paintings, or anything else, if I trust my intuition it will always guide me safely home.
Benjamin Mefford — Big Fan, rope and cast paper,
34" x 30" x 3"
Eddie Reed — Dr. Feel Good, acrylic/mix media on wood,
48" x 36"
With The Truth
The paintings in "My Experiments With The Truth", comment on current headlines, which usually have deep roots in long-standing bias and oppression, the artist says. He uses a multi-layered story approach to call attention to the incongruities of life as experienced by people on the margins (Reed is African-American with Native American roots) compared to leaders and laws that espouse a different reality. By incorporating photographs of real people challenging the status quo, layered with paint, graffiti and Native American symbols, “I want to call out this difference,” Reed says, “and also offer a way forward.”
Native Perspectives: Then and Now
In this show, I explore how Native people have understood our world from ancient times until today. I reference the iconography of Mimbre pottery to tell the stories of our ancestors and present portraits that tell stories of Native people living life today on the border of tradition and acculturation.
The Mimbre were primarily a sedentary people who, from 1000-1150 AD, lived in pueblo-like villages in what is now the American Southwest. Mimbre pottery was monochromatic (generally black on white) and painted with images of the animals, birds, and insects that gave the Mimbre people both physical and spiritual sustenance. The pots were used to carry water and to store seeds and the corn and beans they grew. While it is most common to find pottery with one image, some pieces depicted multiple images including humans and human-animal hybrids, which we believe might tell stories of transformation and affirm Mimbre belief in the connections among all living and spiritual beings. In these oil paintings based on Mimbre iconography, I remain true to the imagery commonly found on pottery. The only change is my addition of color.
The portraits depict native people today. From the Pueblo Corn Dancer taking part in a ceremony as have his ancestors for a thousand years, to the hard working waitress and Pow Wow dancer needing a ride back home, and to those of us about whom others might say, “but you don’t look/talk/act Indian,” Native people today aim to find balance between our traditions and the day to day “realities” of contemporary life.
Don Bailey — Listen to Me, oil on canvas, 24" x 18"
See what Blackfish Artists are involved with outside the gallery this month.