Stacey Davidson & Jason Watson: Doppelgängers
Ross Gallery: January 17- February 28, 2017
Opening Reception: Wednesday, February 1, 6—8p.m., Ross Gallery
Artist Lectures: Wednesday, February 8, 6-7:30p.m., Tate Hall
A mannequin, a puppet, a porcelain head,
A marble bust, a figurine, a doll…
These false figures are the vessels that contain our many selves, those we own outright, and those we do not always wish to display. They are where we store our fear and longing, our pride, our shame, our tiny truths. They become something beyond a substitute, more like an extension of self, a reflection that both duplicates the familiar and insinuates the foreign.
Artists Stacey Davidson and Jason Watson both use these figurative forms to explore themselves and the social worlds they navigate, along distinct, but sometimes parallel, paths. Davidson’s paintings and drawings begin with keen observation of both live models and the dolls she makes to serve as live models. Her probing of these real and newly imagined bodies is an ongoing investigation of portraiture and what it reveals to both herself and her viewers. With painterly grace, she investigates dolls not to dispel their uncanny nature, but instead to enter into its deep mystery.
Jason Watson also draws from found figures, but along with dolls looks at museum mannequins and portrait busts made from marble, wood, and bronze. He encounters these heads in museums and sketches them onsite, translating hard materials into lyrical drawn line, and adding to the archive of faces he later pieces together in tangled, cryptic compositions. Found objects and fractured text animate these works into something caught between narrative suggestion and the absurdity of dreams.
Both artists make to learn, about both their chosen subjects (the doll, the marble bust, the other…) and themselves (the artist, the maker, the inner psyche…). The hybrid German / English word “Doppelgängers” is a fitting title and introduction to this ongoing creative process, as it alludes to both the physical reality of the portraits before you, and to the ever elusive faces and bodies they depict.
Stephanie Neely: Secret Garden
Pease Gallery: January 17- March 2, 2017
Artist Lecture: Wednesday, February 15th 10:30am- 11:30am, Pease Gallery
Opening Reception: Thursday, February 16th 5-7p.m., Pease Gallery
Stephanie Neely’s relationship with art making has long been one of guarded secrecy. Beginning in childhood, drawing and painting became strong creative impulses in her life, though for a long time they remained only as secondary pastimes. Initially pursuing diverse academic and professional routes such as landscape horticulture, law, and religious studies, her interest in painting continued to develop as a latent and ever-growing source of intrigue, eventually culminating in a newly defined connection to the medium of oil pastel.
For the past decade, Neely has concentrated on depicting plant and flower materials in the form of beautifully detailed and enigmatic still life paintings. Her large-scale works take various elements of the natural world as their muses and render them with a deeply-felt sensitivity towards the subject matter at hand. Drawing on skills acquired through her training in landscape horticulture and land surveying, Neely is able to transform her objects with both remarkable exactness and a keen sense of wonder. No longer simply a diversion from other aspects of her life, Neely utilizes her art to reveal the hidden and mysterious nature of her subjects, allowing viewers to take part in that same process of discovery.
Neely’s works are the result of many challenges, frustrations, and, ultimately, the joys of overcoming the temperamental nature of her adopted medium in order to arrive at something truly fulfilling. For her, experimentation, patience, and failure are all integral parts of the creative process. Entirely self-taught, she maintains the same fundamental joy and fascination in painting that motivated her in her early life, always striving for perfection and never short of emotional depth.