First Thursday Opening Reception: May 4, 6-9pm
Alves, Yang and Walker Artist Talks: Saturday, May 13, 3pm
MAY 2-27 — MAIN GALLERY
July and Everything After
— Rita Alves —
St. Helens In June and July — Rita Alves
Oil on canvas, American flags, Kevlar, Class III reflective material, ribbon, gunpowder, recycled fabric, 68" x 46"
In 2020, I began cutting up American flags, painting them, pouring gunpowder on them and lighting it, then sewing the pieces together combined with reflective safety material. This process developed out of the pandemic-era quarantining and the homeschooling requirements imposed on us by a government focused around implementing safety protocols. At the time, it seemed to be the only thing I could do, as a working mother.
When supply chain shortages made gunpowder no longer available, I had to shift my materials. The focus was now on “shortage”. I began using whatever materials I had – scraps of reflective material became bar graphs, and I started making quilts using clothing out of the give-away box and shopping at the Goodwill Bins for additional colors. The idea of quilting goes way back to 2008, when I attended a lecture by Faith Ringgold, and she described how she went from making these monumental paintings like her male, abstract expressionist colleagues, to carrying a bag of folded up quilts around to galleries in New York. I decided to make quilts in these past couple years because I was thinking about comforting objects and their history as a feminine craft associated with protection and warmth, but also the wise words of Ringgold which still stick in my mind. I thought of these quilts, which combine flags, heavy canvas and paint with regular used fabric, as weighted blankets, which are recommended for calming children with ADHD.
In July of 2022, my ex-husband died suddenly at age 44. The two furniture pieces are on display this month to honor his work, as a master of larger-than-life wood craftsmanship. During the ice storm of 2021, when fallen trees created a state of disaster, he got out his Alaskan Chain Saw Mill and got to work slabbing the neighbors’ downed trees. This logging/milling operation was quite a spectacle – All the work took place in front of his home, on a city street near downtown Salem. The design on the dresser was created by shooting electricity through the wood slab using parts out of an old microwave.
Entering Yosemite — Rita Alves
Oil on canvas, American flags, Kevlar, Class III reflective material, ribbon, fabric, 65" x 52"
Fruition — Janice Yang
Janice Yang’s exhibition “Fruition” features her oil paintings that show her own and other immigrants’ journeys to find their home. Yang was originally born in Connecticut but moved to South Korea when she was three and came back to the U.S. at the age of sixteen. This cross-cultural experience has had an enormous impact on her life and her work. She became interested in exploring identity in the context of immigrant people who are caught between two different cultures. Often the subjects in her paintings are children of immigrant families that encounter cultural tensions and face challenges in finding the sense of true belonging. She often places them in the settings of their everyday lives and juxtapose them with their inner feelings and dreams to find their identity as seen through their symbolic objects and patterns around them.
The symbolic elements in Janice’s paintings often represent her Korean heritage as well as her American dream. In her self-portrait Journey to Peach Blossom Land, Janice quoted the Korean historical painting, Dream Journey to Peach Blossom Land (몽유 도원도) by An Gyeon, a painter in the royal palace during Joseon Dynasty. Prince Anpyeong asked him to illustrate his mysterious dream of reaching a paradise full of peach blossoms. In Korean culture peach blossoms symbolize dreams and utopia. The painting was lost and later found in Japan; it is difficult for Koreans to see it except watching the digital copies they received from Japan. This relates Janice’s feeling of loss in her Korean identity while being in the U.S. Janice painted herself holding the salmon head above where the mountain cliffs are in An Gyeon’s scroll to express the challenges in reaching her dream.
Almost There is another self-portrait she recently finished. She started this painting during her 2021 The Sam & Adele Golden Foundation’s Art Educators Annual Residency in New York. She was selected as one of the three international artists for this fully funded residency. She used Golden’s acrylic and Williamsburg oil paints provided by Golden. She applied a lot of techniques she learned during her residency. Janice hopes that her work serves to recognize people that are often unheard.
Journey to Peach Blossom Land — Janice Yang
Oil on canvas, 30" x 24"
Almost There — Janice Yang
Oil on canvas, 44" x 30"
It's Nice to Meet You — Qiheng Liu
Oil on canvas, 13.78" x 9.85"
An Artificial Space
— Qiheng Liu —
The objective of Qiheng Liu’s work is to try to understand different elements of painting and to explore the relationship between them, thereby achieving self-expression. His artistic creation originates from the unfamiliar experiences that various surroundings have brought him. Those experiences forced him to focus his attention on himself – gradually, he came to realize the existence of the “self.” His concept of “self” was established step-by step and became the foundation of his creation. Thereafter, within the process of uninterrupted daily practice, he developed a space in his work, a stage that could embrace any element or any character. He has always been interested in how the elements incorporated into his work compete, interact, and compromise with each other. He believes that painting is a game, just like other games. Each element brings a relevant discipline when incorporated into a work, and those different disciplines were often the genesis of the “game.” However, the future of each element of his work is determined by the “self”.
— Alice Christine Walker —
In her May exhibition titled “Unseen”, Alice Christine Walker explores the complexities of life with an invisible disability. Through her own struggles with Type 1 Diabetes and its subsequent diseases, she harnesses her vulnerability sharing what a year of her life living with medical conditions really looks like. This exhibition allows the audience to explore how the naming of a disease over simplifies its experience thus advocating for all others struggling with disabilities.
The Absence of Suffering is Happiness — Alice Christine Walker
Photo credit: Hannah Garrett
Blackfishers Doing Cool Stuff
See what Blackfish Artists are involved with outside the gallery this month.