Thursday, January 31, 2019

February 2019 Unicorn Of The Month: Danielle Cole

"Roxy" Analogue collage on wood panel. 24x48inches. 2017

It took over four years to gather the materials for the Pile On series. And for four years I filled box after box of cars and legs without a clue what to do with them. Previously, all my work was narrative in nature. I always had something to say about domesticity, gender roles, the pursuit of material goods, and here I was with piles of cars and legs with no clear idea of what they wanted from me. My initial pieces were terrible mixed media compilations - I painted in landscape and made the cars into dynamic warriors with station wagons pitted against convertibles. Work so terrible, that I have since taken them apart so I could re-use the collage elements.

"Betsy" Collage on original 1859 print. 11x14 inches. 2016
"Charlie" Collage on original 1859 print. 11x14 inches. 2016

It wasn’t until I let go of the narrative as a goal that I started to create compositions focusing on the shapes and interactions that I was able to move forward. Eventually, through curating specific cars and arrangements, the story telling nature of my work returned. The body of work solidified, five years after I started, while I was traveling in San Francisco. At first in small pieces, I found 1859 Scottish landscapes at John Windle’s antiquarian booksellers space. I bought some and later I volunteered to organize some materials and received a total of 12 original prints that I later made into unique pieces with singular images of a car with legs roving through the Scottish landscape. 

While traveling, I had brought with me folders full of cars and legs for my ‘Pile on,’ series with the intention to build large scale pieces when I got home. I used to call these elements my, ‘kombucha scobies,’ these things I carried around that were necessary to grow other collages. While in San Francisco I met Megan and Rick Prelinger, co-founders of The Prelinger Library , a library that consists of a ‘collection of 19th and 20th century historical ephemera, periodicals, maps, and books, most published in the United States. The Prelinger’s being perpetual patrons of the arts and community-based activities extended their generosity to me by giving me access to their space, their collection, their computer and large flatbed scanner.

Using the large scanner provided by the Prelinger’s allowed me to experiment with analogue piles of cars and legs in a digital environment. These early compositions led to more evolved work months later when I returned home and provided the backbone of my current work. I began creating large-scale arrangements on wood panel and I returned to experimenting with compositions using a large scanner at my local library. I created compositions by placing arrangements of cars and legs upside down on a large flatbed scanner. These pieces exist for only a moment in time as they are scanned and were later made into 18x24 archival prints.
"Inspiration point" Archival print. 18x24. 2017
"Gwendolyn" Analogue collage on wood panel. 24x36inches. 2017
"Speed Trap" Archival print. 18x24 inches. 2017
"Jack Knifed" Archival print. 18x24 inches. 2017

To see more of Danielle's work, visit her Website, and check out updates and progress shots on Instagram, Twitter, Tumblr. And if you're in Toronto Canada between February 21-24, go visit her at the Artist Project Contemporary Art Fair and buy her work!

Tuesday, January 01, 2019

January 2018 Unicorn Of The Month: Galen Cheney

Optimist, oil, acrylic, and liquid textile color on collaged canvas, 63" x 68."

Painting is a sort of heartbreak. Initially there’s the seduction—the painting seems to paint itself and everything is working. Then, the veil slips and all the flaws are revealed, one by one, and I have to undo everything that I at first thought was so beautiful. This plays out again and again in each painting until something new pushes forward, hopefully stronger, stranger, unanticipated. And by flaws I don’t mean mistakes, for I think any strength my paintings may have is born of the accumulation of shifts in direction, which manifest as surfaces that are built up, scraped off, carved into, and built up again. The painting is a record of its making.

Return From Exile, acrylic and oil on collaged canvas, 72" x 56."
The Heart Knows What the Eye Can't See ... textile color on canvas, 56" x 65."

That physicality is intrinsic to these process-driven works. I have long been drawn to abandoned city walls given over to graffiti as well as to the peeling frescoes of Pompeii and ancient cave paintings. I relate to them both aesthetically as well as emotionally. The work I was doing previously more overtly related to contemporary graffiti. I have since stepped back from that, though I am still hooked on bright colors and the combination of slick and gritty surfaces.

Light Falls, textile color, acrylic and oil pastel on raw canvas, 40" x 36."
Limbic, oil, acrylic and paper on collaged canvas, 60" x 44."

I had never before felt so foreign or out of my element. I was in a heightened state and I put all of my expressive energy into my work. With papers bought and found I got to work. The most potent expression of my feeling of being unmoored and disconnected yet very alive was to rip, alter, and recombine what became small mountains of paper in my studio. This is when I began working in collage in earnest. I felt like I was in a kind of trance, and when I came out of it I not only had a whole new body of work, but a new way of working as well as a path forward.

My current work has everything to do with a residency I had in China three years ago. I went there with only a few pencils and a couple of my favorite ink brushes, as my intention was to explore the beautiful papers and inks that I would find there. Being in China was an eye-opening experience for me; I was one of very few westerners in this small city, and, apart from a few phrases, I spoke no Mandarin.

Optimist, oil, acrylic, and liquid textile color on collaged canvas, 63" x 68."
Untitled (Chartreuse) Textile color and oil on collaged canvas, 60" x 48."

When I got home I wanted to apply the ideas I had developed with paper in China to canvas and other textiles. I am still working in this way—ripping paintings up, collaging them back together, adding paper, pulling elements off, adding others. It is creatively rich and satisfying and I see no end in sight.

To see more Galen's work, visit her Website and Instagram Page.