INDIANA GREEN 2011 | Featured Artists
Pamela is a Wisconsin Native. She likes to say she came into this world with crayons in her hands! Her bold and colorful strokes are created from the conscious and unconscious. Daily connections with the world affect and transform the flow of her creativity. Pamela’s work owes something to the Abstract Expressionist’s yet it feels more modern.
As an exhibiting artist and strong advocate of the arts, Pamela is active in local and state organizations including, Milwaukee Artist Resource Network (MARN) where she holds the Executive Position of Vice President. Pamela is the founder of the 9yr old Westside Artwalk, a local art production which has grown into a two day premier event.
Pamela is currently an Artist in Residence at Mandel Creative Group Studio, directed by Plaid Tuba.
Pamela’s work has been described as “Pure joy on canvas” and an “Explosion of emotion.” She hopes her use of color stimulates your imagination.
The interplay of color, shapes and texture, light and shadow, and a sense of repose and beauty have taken on more importance for me recently–I am less attached to the intellectual aspects of the subject matter and more interested in the formal qualities of the work as art or exploration.
Watercolor was my first serious medium and I go back to it often. The mandala watercolor honors two women in my life who have dealt with breast cancer.
My work explores visual components of social stereotypes and oddities from popular culture. I am particularly interested in the interweaving of cultural ideologies and their iconic symbols of value. It is the hybridization of association where I find a refreshing perspective on beauty and its potential to create new meaning.
My most current paintings explore those ideologies through ironic plays of macho signifiers such as trophy bucks and extreme snowmobiling combined with layers of color, pattern, and decorative ornamentation to create a vibrant decadence that is stylistically foreign to small-town, rural America.
I draw upon a diverse set of sources from Persian textiles and wallpaper patterns to camouflage and hunting magazines. I combine these elements to disorienting effect. Metaphorically, the paintings represent the complexity of idealized beauty, cultural identity and the euphoric rush of the outdoorsman experience. My paintings synthesize these symbolic elements, resulting in a hybridized reality where delicate domesticity and wild outdoor ruggedness all coexist.
I am attracted to paradox. My work is about seeing relationships between often contradictory realities. It is particularly exciting to discover intersections between the natural and built environments and to explore how we perceive our place within these environments. I am also motivated by a desire to effect change, whether it is simply in how a subject is understood or how we relate to the world.
I work in series or projects. Each series is usually related by particular formal considerations as well as the subject and meaningful content. While my work often involves very specific formal structures, the form is driven by content, expression and an overall conceptual framework.
The Icon Series uses the triptych, a recognizable formal structure with historical/cultural resonance, to emphasize iconic themes. The content varies along a continuum between natural elements within a built environment and human elements within natural environments. The form places a central figure within a context that either magnifies its iconic stature and symbolic meaning or creates an unexpected juxtaposition. The symbolism is often subtle or ironic and the resulting meanings iconoclastic. The central figure in these constructions is often elevated to iconic status despite its being an otherwise ordinary subject. It is rarely a subject that would be perceived as iconic and therefore it subverts or inverts the accepted definition of an icon. My intention is to invite the viewer to think about the subject and its relationship to its context in a newly symbolic way.
The triptych is achieved two ways: some are pre-visualized on site and shot as three sequential images while others are combined later after examining and rearranging images to establish new relationships. When the triptych form separates parts of one panoramic image it also serves to change the way the subject is viewed. Instead of seeing it as one single image, a dialogue is established among the three parts and narrative qualities are increased. Our experience of the world is relational and conditional rather than singular and fixed.
There is no canvas and no illusion; painting in my work is not a window to look through but a physical object to look at, though still maintaining the formal principals of painting.
Each piece is made to exist freely in an unfixed state and is always up for revision and reconstitution in collaboration with natural elements such as time, gravity and weight, thus making the forms impermanent while constantly exposing their vulnerability to time. The painting becomes an event. These subtle or exaggerated events describe their histories and document and record their lives as objects as they exist and react to the environment around them.
Currently my interests have been to restrict some of the variables in my paintings. Primarily I have been reducing the amount of color that I use, this emphasizes other aspects of the painting and I think makes more apparent the decisions in the mark making procedures and therefore the thought process of the painting. Patterns: organic, inorganic, clumsy, sometimes graceful are the main motif of the work. It is important that it is obvious that they are painted by hand. I want the viewer to know that a human being is unavoidably behind the work.
I have also been more conscientious about the use of materials. Instead of making them more lavish I have been paring them down, using more recycled, found or inherited materials in the paintings. I like to think that I have become a hunter/gatherer when it comes to getting my paints and surfaces. Primarily I aim to avoid materials that we take for granted as making art, what I mean by that is materials that, as soon as they are used we know art is being made. For the time being I am also avoiding stretching the paintings. Larger stretched canvases are cumbersome, I cannot take them camping, the edges are hard, and they take up more space. I like to sit in my paintings while I work on them.
Objects from non-western, non-industrialized societies have become a primary source of inspiration. Specifically, living in America, has made me interested in cultures that are indigenous to this area and whom the land influenced all aspects of culture, from lifestyle, to the language, to what we would call art and spirituality as well. I envy the sense of connection I feel that exists in those works and that I feel for those works. Art and life are not separated. To me, traditional representational painting, being a representation, in a framed square with the use of perspective, in a museum seems at times to just create a longer and longer tube through which one observes the world.
The first goal of my work is to feel a connection from making them. The concentration and relative freedom of the decision-making process are very appealing to me. Primarily I work intuitively with a few parameters in mind before I start. I try to balance the constant and repetition of a pattern against the variations and incidental aspects that allow it to grow turn into various forms. When I am painting I remember the rivers I have kayaked, the birds I have seen and the trees I have hid behind when hunting deer. The more beautiful the pieces turn out the happier I am with them. When someone else finds them beautiful I am happy as well.
The paintings I create is based on visual and written recordings of people, places, and things I find interesting and in someway, feel a connection to. In my studio I transform and reduce those thoughts and feelings into paintings that reflect on those experiences and personal attachments. Abstraction allows me to explore, adopt, adapt and reflect on life experiences through documenting specific moments in time.
My works identify how I see and feel about the world around me. Created through direct observation, memory and intuition they are the product of the emotional responses that inspire me.
It is my intention to bring the viewer inside the work so they may have an appreciation of my inspiration.
My investigation into non-traditional material and habit of collecting odd things has led me to an exploration of home making. The materials that I often find intriguing are from repetitive activities that I personally complete. One such activity is washing and drying the laundry. Dryer lint has many properties that are inherently attractive. Lint is a record of the time and effort put into sorting and completing the task, it is a record of the colors and types of cloths in the laundry, and it almost always emerges from the lint trap in the loveliest Martha Stewarty subdued colors. Sections of one lint removal can reveal much about the life of the home maker.
Similarly, I am interested the process and product of the paper wasp. Paper wasps have large nests that are collectively made by the swarm of wasps. Each layer of paper is made by many wasps as they come back to the nest to add their bit of chewed up wood pulp. The nest is a record of the time involved in making the nest, the diet of the wasps, and the size of the swarm. The paper that comprises the nest contains the loveliest striations of neutral colors, much like dryer lint. Wasps are home makers too.
MELISSA DORN RICHARDS
Melissa Dorn Richards started life on an Air Force base in Anchorage, Alaska, and spent her formative years in West Bend, Wisconsin. After bouncing around to different colleges, she moved to Milwaukee to attend the Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design, and received her BFA in 1996. Since graduating, she has taught in various art programs and schools and has been active in the local arts community.
Her current work focuses on creating bold, abstract oil paintings. On the surface, they are simple, strong shapes and confident colors, to look deeper into her work is to discover her warmth, depth and humor. There is rarely angst in her work, more likely you’ll find a gestural almost human quirkiness in her shapes and a certain pleasure in their simplicity.
Select exhibitions and gallery representation include: Indiana Green, Juarez Invitational; Eight Counties, John Michael Kohler Arts Center; Artist Market, Milwaukee Art Museum; Around the Coyote Festivals, Chicago; Art Chicago, Hotcakes Gallery; Aqua Art Miami, Hotcakes Gallery; Impromptu, Cedar Gallery; and The Leigh Gallery, Chicago. Dorn Richards is also a Reginald Baylor Studio Resident Artist and works out of the Plaid Tuba Studios in Milwaukee’s Third Ward.
Through the manipulation of found materials and techniques associated with painting and drawing, my work is engaged in the long-standing relationship between art and science- as means of investigative inquiry. It is through this artistic practice that I investigate an interest in the methods by which we understand and locate our body.
Lately, I have been interested in the ways medical research investigate the vestibular system, or the organs of balance. Through my own visual research, I have collected an archive of images expressing methods for understanding vestibular health. Many of these often strange and unexpected methods engage that patient in rotatory testing, which involves spinning chairs or rotating visual patterns.
In response to these experiential tests, I created a site-specific drawing that required me to continually walk around a column for three hours. As I walked in circles, I used a graphite stick to draw a single line that started at the floor and ended at my furthest vertical reach. Additionally, powdered graphite on the floor tracked my steps and expressed the width of my movements around the column. This performative drawing used the repetitive action of rotatory tests to challenge my vestibular system while measuring my movement, as well as the dimensions of my body.
The focus of the column drawing was really the act of making it, but the site specificity rendered the evidentiary drawing extremely temporary. In order to further investigate the product of the performative line drawing, I created a series of mixed media works based on documentation of the column. These works become a sort of reenactment of the visual quality of the line and column at the time of the performance, providing a static interpretation of an unstable surface.
I was born with a rare vascular disease called Klippel-Trenaunay Syndrome. Living with a condition that disfigures my right leg, I am blessed in being able to see beauty in strange places. What some may find unsightly I find alluring. Through my work I can express this awareness.
In this series, I spent most of my time painting from medical photographs. The photos were of different people with my vascular disease affected on various parts of the body. By removing the affected areas from their bodily context, and presenting them as abstract forms, the focus comes to be entirely on the syndrome itself. By honing in on one area of the body, I am looking to expose the beauty and uniqueness that I see. I hope to instill the allure and complexity of a body that might otherwise be considered unattractive. I tried to approach the environments for the fleshy forms in a very superficial way. Just as the vascular shapes are in a bizarre, glamorous environment, so are disabled persons in our beauty-obsessed society
I have always made things. As a kid I made dollhouse furniture and mix tape collage covers, clothes, and a hundred other things. Grade school, high school and college were full of art classes. I was encouraged by my teachers, and I loved the work and the various processes of making things. University offered a semester abroad and I spent countless hours in museums and galleries in Europe. I studied art at UW-Milwaukee, and fell in love with sculptural and functional work. My lifelong fascination with ephemera, found objects, and re-purposing things began to merge with my formal art studies. I also loved the idea that supplies could be free. I am forever looking into people’s garbage cans and curb piles and rummage sales.
I’ve been an environmentalist since I can remember. I hate the immense waste that defines our modern lives. I have always seen more life and potential in things that others consider “used up.” It’s a great challenge and it puts interesting influences into my work when I use the pieces that float through the world and come my way rather than buying new clean supplies. I enjoy the challenge of pre-determined influences and forces that I must work around. Objects that come to me with a colorful history have meaning and history that give me interesting directions to explore. In addition to collecting things that I see on curbs and in gutters as I go about my life, friends and family save things for me. It’s really interesting to see what things they save for me. And it gets them excited about the potential of things they would have previously tossed in the waste bin without a thought. Now they think about what it could be, or they at least think about what I could turn it into. I like to get people thinking about that. Our society is very very wasteful, and if I can get people to think “this might still have some use, I’m not going to throw it out” then I’m making some kind of difference. Items that catch my eye are usually of a color combination that is interesting to me, or a beautiful pattern, or something that has been worn down by the world so much that it is a painting in itself. The world has left it’s marks, and they tell a story. The patinas and incidental shapes of these things make them
Objets d′art in their own right. They’re sculptures that the world has randomly forged. I see this beauty, save these things, alter them thereby leaving my mark, combine them together and display them so that others can also see their beauty. then I send them off into the world to continue being of use.
Balance and interdependence are crucial to my work. I cobble together structures that look as if they could fall over at any minute, but instead, triumphantly remain standing. I see them as optimistic observations on the opportunity inherent in failure. They are filled with unselfconscious hope.
Both materially and metaphorically, my work explores the tenuous. I focus on the moments of connection—both implied and actual—to suggest the fragility and resilience of relationships, as well as the precarious, often awkward nature of existing in a physical body.
Language plays an important role in my process. I arrange objects grammatically: materials and shapes function as nouns, action verbs, conjunctions, punctuation. I move the parts around until they read like a well-constructed sentence—hopefully one that offers the potential for multiple interpretations.
Our culture is increasingly based on visual imagery. A key component of this world is text. Text informs, stimulates, indoctrinates, sells and/or manipulates. My art uses text alone or with a variety of images in multiple media. Sometimes the text is the work of art. In other works, the text expands or complements a found image that creates a conceptual interplay. These works are not meant to be decorative. They are meant to confront the viewer to stop and react to an image in a new context.
I often consider or describe myself as a fly on the wall. I am always in a state of observation, testing the surroundings, and at times participating. My goal as a fine art photographer is to take those observations and life experiences and create visual statements that really become a mirror for the viewer. When people view my photographs my intent is for them to crawl inside this visual journey and explore their own life experiences and observations through my made up but very real world.
When I create my photographs I am reminded that everyone comes to life experiences differently. I’d like the viewer of my work to come away feeling visually satisfied but intellectually curious. I feel most successful when I’ve connected with the viewer on an emotional level but left room for interpretation.
Gestation is a series created after receiving eight vending machine babies in plastic balls from a friend. People who are familiar with my fine art projects know that I often utilize a variety of dolls in my work. The fascination with the inanimate doll is that we all have experiences as children playing with dolls in some manner. Often using our own childhood experiences or societal observations to role play a host of scenerios bringing life to these inanimate beings. Gestation is a series that taps into the emotions and connection to the creation of life. It evokes emotions of fear, delight, and surprise, as well as, reflections of ones past, present and future. The images balance between a sense of calm and anxiety while representing a slice of life in ones family album. Gestation is about beginnings and the challenges of life from conception to death, how ever long that span may be.
When I am creating a photograph, whether it is work I am doing for magazines, commission, or my fine art; I am reminded how much it still excites me. The smallest most subtle things can make it all worth it. A glint of highlight in just the right place, how I bring out the texture on a certain object, or how re-cropping the image in the viewfinder, can turn an average image into an extraordinary one. These are the little victories that fuel my desire as an image maker. I find each of my photographic fine art themes a journey of discovery and learning. I enjoy taking new paths that challenge my comfort zone. Whether I am pushing those boundaries with the subject matter I have chosen or the material or technique that I am using, it is always more about the journey and not the final destination.
April 9 – 30, 2011
April 16 from 5 to 8 pm
Greenseed Studio, 1011 Indiana Avenue, Sheboygan, WI 53081
Z Spot Espresso & Coffee, 1024 Indiana Avenue, Sheboygan, WI 53081
INDIANA GREEN 2011 is co-curated by Melissa Dorn Richards & Frank Juarez