A New Interview Series

The first in our series of interviews with Ground Floor’s studio mates, Erin Murphy is an artist deeply invested in exploring materials and diverse methods. Despite the emphasis on medium, you can easily describe her work as poetic. She is focusing her attention lately on rubbings similar to frottage. It is not a basis for a new drawing, but rather an impression of a place, a way of memorializing. She leaves her studio to take these rubbings of places that interest her- laying canvas down and rubbing over them with either graphite or construction wax.  I met up with Erin to talk about this frenzy of new work, and we also discussed her other endeavors in drawing and painting. Below are slightly condensed portions of my conversation with the artist.

We looked at one of her pieces individually (pictured on right) to get a feel for what she is exploring:

 

Erin: This is taken from that border/boundary of Fort Negley. It runs from Fort Negley to the Adventure Science Center. What’s printed on top of that is what I  had wrapped around a place at the Old Stone Fort that has love trees, like those trees that people like to carve their names into. Those parts of the tree are overlaid with the boundary of Fort Negley.

 

(Fort Negley is a military fortification that was constructed for defense of territories in the Civil War-the largest one built in the US for that war. Old Stone Fort is a prehistoric Native American structure that was misnamed a “fort” by settlers as they didn’t know what it was. The original entrance of the fort was designed to face the exact spot of the horizon where the sun rises during summer solstice)

 

E: Old Stone Fort is outside of Murfreesboro. I actually went to go do boulders there but Old Stone Fort is fairly misleading with how much of the fort is left. It’s more like a place where you can stand and imagine where the Old Stone Fort used to be-when it was there…potentially? One of the only things that was visually interesting to me there were these carvings in the trees. But I’m glad that that happy accident happened.

 

There is plenty of meaningful contemplation to be had by taking from these two disparate places and conjoining them. In this, you could be invited to rethink politics as two histories are combined with a tragic commonality. You also could see the beauty in it, because after all, she did add love trees.

 

E: It makes me think of the trees as a different kind of monument. There is one that is meant to be social or historic. I think that’s what was interesting to me about doing this. I’m documenting something specific, it is the literal impression of something. They help me focus on that rock rather than a philosophical representation of a rock coming from just my imagination. I tend to romanticize objects and have a folder in my head that I usually am working from. So this has been nice to get really specific.

 

Sibley: So you’ve never done rubbings until now?

 

E: Not really. They started as a way for me to get out of my studio. And I used to do a lot of monoprinting in school so I definitely like the idea of the “one off” kind of thing. I’ve done a lot of metal casting, so taking impressions of things and making a mold. So I guess I was thinking of way to do that that didn’t involve casting. The first one  I made was when I was working at the foundry and I had a really “rustic” studio. I was an intern so I had the shittiest space in the back. I was working on these big drawings and the woodgrain on the studio wall was so prevalent that I couldn’t make drawings on them. I was getting really frustrated, and one night it was late and hot and I was getting swarmed with mosquitos so I just kind of scribbled over the whole piece. Came back the next morning and thought it was an interesting thing.

S: Are you trying to find connections between the different places, or are you just sort of looking for interesting textures?

 

E: I’m looking for texture and that weird gut feeling that those things are connected but not necessarily specifically. Like the connection with the boulders and love trees; they’re both these relics that nobody really cares about anymore; they’re both things that are within my path as I’m thinking about them; they’re both things you come back to later and see the process of wear or change. That’s what I really enjoy about the work, these things come together and each lend meaning to other aspects or shift  your perspective on the thing you’re looking at. But there are other things I really like about it; it kind of feels like water or almost an abstraction of something, like there’s a sense of movement to it but they’re both really still solid objects.

 

S: Yeah when I first saw it at a glance I thought it was an abstracted chinese landscape scroll.

 

E: Yeah I like that scroll aspect of it. When I first started them I was using canvases that matched the size and shape of the objects.

 

They are also an excuse for me to be allowed to come in and poke around old buildings. They let me in the Belcourt before it was refinished. And I think I wanted it to be some kind of preservation, like I could be precious with things and memorialize them, but that’s not the feel that these have. So I kind of gave up  on sort of cataloging these things, there are much better ways to do that. And because a lot things are too fragile for me to do this with. In the Belcourt there was some plaster and paint that was coming off and the friction would actually damage them. I don’t want to have to break the thing I’m taking an impression on so that kind of limits what I can look at to things that are hardy and can stand the test of time.

 

S: So it’s wax that you’re using?

 

E: It’s construction wax that they use for metal and wood at constructions sites so they know where everything is going. It’s pretty hardy. The color makes them come out looking kind of like blueprints which was a mistake. They ran out of black and blue was my only option. I was doing a large ceiling with the help of a friend and they said “Oh it’s like a to-scale blueprint of the building,” and I liked that.

 

I like when things turn into other things, that’s always a very exciting potential of art for me is sort of  that it can break those rules and it doesn’t have to be one thing. It can break rules that you can’t really break in the real world. It can kind of move into a mysterious or fantasy space.

 

Erin is also doing rubbings with graphite, and experimenting with their shape. She has constructed wire sculptures to aid in the exploration of how shape and placement can alter the experience of the rubbings.

 

 

Erin is also working together with another artist to produce an artist’s book, and aiming for completion this fall. Her drawings that will be included are small and intimate. They are saturated with detail and mirror her larger bodies of work through their themes of nature and deterioration.

 

E: I feel like these are almost…personal. Drawing for me is a lot easier to make more intimate to me, probably because of scale. I can work on them anywhere and work on them for a really long time. And I think they help me think about what I want the other work to feel like. I started making these a long time before I started making the wire structures. I think I end up looking for material that feels like the line that I want or the movement I was getting at.

We also talked about her paintings, which are equally as intimate and saturated. You could describe these paintings as poetic unironically, and I think this comes from its sincerity. When made honestly and free from influence outside of the artist’s gut, a painting can warm you. A painting can take what the artist has given it and bounce it right back onto your chest.

 

E: Painting let’s you work out things, things that you wouldn’t expect. There are mysteries. I still find that really gratifying, not knowing where something is going and getting comfortable with that. I’ve come to a point in my life where that is what art is for, for me. And it is also fun to sometimes make things you can explain to people.

 

S: Is there any explanation for these paintings? Or are they just paintings?

 

E: They’re just paintings. I think of them all as excerpts from fictional landscapes. They are excerpts of this weird glowing watery world, but they don’t have specific narratives. They’re almost storyboards for something. Like if you’re looking at a movie and flipping through the inspiration sketches and they’re just trying to create the atmosphere for where all these activities will take place. They’re just trying to create this weird world. They’re all in this one really specific environment.

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Rods and Ribbons coming soon…

Jazz - MJQ view 1 by Gil Given Acrylic ~ 7' x 14

“Jazz MJQ”

Rods and Ribbons
Solo exhibition featuring the work of Gil Given

Opens October 7th 6-9pm with artist reception

Ground Floor Gallery is pleased to present Rods and Ribbons, a solo exhibition awarded to Nashville Artist Gil Given after being selected as “Best in Show” by Austin Thomas, a NYC-based artist and community builder.

His most recent work, the ribbon paintings, leave the two-dimensional scope of the canvas and incorporate sculptural elements.

October 2017

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BARED opens Tonight

“Lee’s Lace,” egg tempera on panel, 24″x18″, 2016 by Susan Jamison

“Who am I?” Bronze and etched mirror, 11x6x6, 2014 by Belgin Yucelen

Come see these lovely ladies, and many more TONIGHT between 6-9pm.

BARED based on the anthology, Les Femmes Folles: The Women 2015 curated and edited by Sally Deskins, explores the gendered narratives that clothe and fashion the body as well as gender subversion and the traditional male gaze and will feature the following artists:

Kathy Crabbe, Courtney Kenny Porto, Libby Rowe, Chuka Susan Chesney, Stacy Howe, Teresa Dunn, Cathy Sarkowsky, Bonnie Gloris, Rosemary Meza-DesPlas, Susan Jamison, Susan DetroyEvelyn Katz, Belgin Yucelen, Suzanne Proulx, Lauren Rinaldi, Amy Cerra

 

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A Studio Visit with Gil Given

Gil Given is an artist living and working in Nashville. As a painter who recently gained some artistic momentum since retiring and committing to the studio full time, he submitted to Ground Floor’s 5th Annual Juried Show, Otherworldliness . His entered piece won Best of Show , earning himself a solo exhibition this October. The momentum is picking up speed now as Gil prepares for his show. He tells me he is aiming to complete 20 pieces; a feat only the devout artist could pull off by October. Gil is every bit of the word.

Gil was kind enough to not only welcome me into his studio, but his home where his paintings hang in every room like an architectural timeline of the work. When you enter his studio, the first thing that you’re bound to notice is jazz music permeating the room. This is to no surprise as one body of paintings are called his Jazz Series. He points to one newly finished piece and tells me that it is called Here Comes the Sun , based on Taj Mahal’s Woodstock album. The way he relates music to the pieces is inextricably tied to color, another personal interest.

When I press him about how the music makes its way in he tells me, “Color for me is what is most important. I’m interested in adjacents and the color wheel. I’ll take a single color and work the monochromatic-like the piece I showed you, Cerulean Falls . I like iridescents that shimmer, it adds a certain depth to color. A lot of it is basic color theory, and when you’re listening to music, just, how does it make you feel? Is there a brightness to it? The music of Dave Brubeck versus Miles Davis; there’s a different feel to that, so the color can affect it. The Jazz 2 piece is called

Cool Blues because, you know, Miles Davis; he was definitely the father of the cool jazz scene. But does that mean all of Miles’ music is blue? No.”

Gil is showing two other bodies of work in addition to the Jazz Series: Paintings for Narrow Spaces, and the Sentinel Series. When I ask him to explain the Sentinel Series, he says, “Think about a lighthouse in space.” Paintings for Narrow Spaces, he tells me, is exactly what it sounds like. Gil found himself interested in the architectural spaces that are small and overlooked. He began to see that some his pieces could find a home in the small spaces that always find themselves vacant.

Architecture seems to be of importance to his work. There was interesting relationship between the paintings and walls, ribbons and floor. Light from windows and lamps stacks out the color, and creates a second “shadow painting.” The angles of the pieces hung in relation to his home. Much of Gil’s early work was done on huge shaped canvases with an emphasis on line (think Frank Stella). He talks about the evolution from these paintings to what we will be seeing at Ground Floor: “I was doing these Stella-like paintings and started thinking- what if the color just left the canvas

and…plop. I made this piece that was 14 feet long and the stripes just sort of spilled onto the ground. That’s how the ribbon came to be.”

 

You can catch the work at our gallery during the month of October. Help yourself to some inspired listening in the meantime:

Miles Davis

Dave Brubeck

The Modern Jazz Quartet

 

  

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Les Femmes Folles Presents: BARED

Full of It by Kathy Crabbe

“Full of It” Kathy Crabbe

Dunn_Teresa_Andrew to Anna

“Transitioning from Andrew to Anna” Teresa Dunn

Ground Floor Gallery is excited to announce our next show. Please join us the evening of Saturday, August 5th, from 6-9 pm for the opening of BARED, an exhibition curated by Sally Deskins featuring the work of selected artists from the book of the same name published by Les Femmes Folles.

Deskins is currently Exhibits Coordinator for West Virginia University Libraries and founder of Les Femmes Folles, an organization providing a platform for women in all levels, genres and styles of art.

The show explores the gendered narratives that clothe and fashion the body as well as gender subversion and the traditional male gaze and will feature the following artists:

Kathy Crabbe, Courtney Kenny Porto, Libby Rowe, Chuka Susan Chesney, Stacy Howe, Teresa Dunn, Cathy Sarkowsky, Bonnie Gloris, Rosemary Meza-DesPlas, Susan Jamison, KA Letts, Susan Detroy, Florine Desmothene, Evelyn Katz, Belgin Yucelen, Suzanne Proulx, Lauren Rinaldi, Amy Cerra, and Marlana Adele Vassar.

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No. Inc. presents Art of the South 2017

“d’evils (these MFs)” Lester Merriweather

 

X no.5 (Honey Bees, Honey & Salt) Brent Dedas

 

We are pleased to be hosting our region’s annual Art of the South, presented by NUMBER: Inc., a quarterly visual arts journal hailing from Memphis with coverage throughout AL, AR, FL, GA, KY, LA, MD, MO, MS, NC, OK, TN, TX, SC, VA, or WV.

Join us Saturday, June 3rd, 6-9pm for a show that appears to be a cross-section of the contemporary rippling of art scenes across the southern region.

This show was curated by Mark Scala, Chief Curator at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts. Scala received an MA in in art history and MFA in painting from Virginia Commonwealth University. Having spent the better part of his life painting, Mark is himself an artist. His interests and exhibitions have focused on representations of the body in contemporary art.

There are 28 artists displaying at Ground Floor Gallery + Studios and the L Ross Gallery in Memphis simultaneously.

Artists showing at GfG include:

Amelia Briggs, a painter who has recently been working on bulbous “inflatable” appearing surfaces. Amelia has definite interests in children’s imagery and expression.

Brent Dedas, works in mixed media and recalls the intensity of abstract expressionists. His work explores dichotomies such as science and art, or destruction and creation.

Donald Furst, a printmaker who depicts architectural scenes at night. Many of his compositions focus on interiors that include an opening door.

Jaime Johnson, a photographer currently teaching at Ole Miss. Using cyanotype photography, she explores female identity.

John Jackson, a figural painter drawing from the neo-expressionists. His paintings center around our current relationship with technology. The work represented in this show differs greatly from this and marks his way into abstraction.

Joseph Holsapple, an artist who makes still life paintings of domestic items. He fills his images with childhood objects and leaves bits of the image unfinished, evoking the nature of memory.

Katherine Wagner, a pattern-based painter who takes cues from the loud patterned fashion of the 80’s. Much of her work is based on personal childhood experiences with visual pattern.

Lauren Yandell, an artist who works in graphite, collage, and installation while finding a balance between nature and geometry. She marries realism with the raw quality of drawing.

Lester Merriweather, an artist and curator that works in collage. Lester focuses his attention on racial relationships, capitalism, consumerism, and the myriad of ways these things intersect.

Michael Nichols, creates unearthly portraits using buon fresco, air brush, and silverpoint. His curiosity in introducing old and ancient mediums to contemporary art is reflected in the ghostly images he creates.

Victoria Tinsley, works in both sculpture and painting, creates surreal figures that morph into and out of each other.

Virgil (Cayse) Cheatham, a graduate of Yale University who currently lives in Atlanta, GA. He divides his time between creating erie landscaped-based paintings and working at the Zuckerman Museum.

If you can’t make it to the opening night of Art of the South, stop by during our regular gallery hours to check it out! We will be open Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Sundays, 5-8pm.

 

 

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“Dad in the 90’s” in Review

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Katherine Wagner’s Dad in the 90’s (a painting in our Otherworldliness show), is a synthesis of past and present.  A piece of found material supplies a foundational structure, an armature for a meditation on past experiences.  Inspired by textile and its ability to conjure the past, through palette and pattern, Wagner searches for fabrics that connect with an aspect of familiar associations. Using the found rhythms and structures within the textile, Wagner composes her own rhythm, adding shapes, colors, and disruptions, stitching pieces together, creating a wholly new composition. This piece speaks to a memory of a pair of swim trunks owned by her father back in the day- a cause for embarrassment at the time.  This piece seems to connect with that memory in a way that is more emboldened, an act of looking back on this aesthetic decision as a noteworthy moment in an inherited visual vocabulary.

by Amanda Joy Brown

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