January 30 – March 7, 2015
Open Reception: Friday, January 30, 5–9 pm.
Old stories live on through the retelling in each generation and are given new life from reinterpretation. We often learn about our own virtues through characters portrayed in folklore and fairy tales. In our exhibition In the Realm of Innocents we present six artists and their artwork that takes on classic iconography. The visual narrative can be seen as introspective of the artists, just as we often see ourselves in stories in which we are most drawn to.
The exhibition is curated by Michael Flanagan and Kimberly Storage.
“Much of my work is inspired by folklore, myth and literature reflected in my own personal preoccupations, specifically themes of desire, femaleness, the natural world, the human/animal boundary, children’s games, ritual, intuition and memory,” explains Gina Litherland in her artist statement. Litherland studied literature at the University of Indiana and art at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago.
Besides photography, painting, drawing, she also writes and have had several essays published in journals worldwide. Her essay published in the collection Surrealist Women, entitled “Imagination and Wilderness” stated that “The imagination is a wilderness — liberating, ecstatic, waiting to grow and fly and howl.”
The narratives and figures in her paintings have the styling akin to the Sienese School, especially the use of subdued hues of red and blue, elongated neckline and the directive gaze. Litherland has said that her painting techniques borrow from 15th century Sienese painters. With various techniques and tools, she meticulously creates detailed depictions of natural scenery using complex layers and texturing. Still, the surface of her paintings often seem poreless and like glass.
(For more information on Gina Litherland, go to her website)
Jean Roberts Guequierre
Born and lived throughout the Midwest before finding home in Milwaukee nearly three decades ago, Jean Roberts Guequierre is revered by peers as one of the most talented painters in town. Her paintings often recall the stylings of the Flemish and early Italian Renaissance but with brazen and emphatic modern accent.
Guequierre’s “Zoonotic Madonna and Child” series, exhibited in In the Realm of Innocents, was created as a part of the Current Tendencies III exhibition at the Haggerty Museum, in the fall of 2014. The relatively new annual project invites local established and up-and-coming artists to create new work inspired by one or more pieces from the Haggerty’s permanent collection. Guequierre chose “Madonna and Child” (ca. 1550) by Pieter Claeissins I and “Four Horsemen (from Book of Revelation)“ (ca. 1500) by Albrecht Dürer. The result combines the figures from Claeissins’ piece and the background of Dürer’s to illustrate, as the artist stated, “the hubris and frailty of modern life.”
*Represented by and on loan from the Dean Jensen Gallery
Statement from artist’s website:
This work indulges in the gratuitous pleasures of youth, beauty, sex, pop culture, fairytales and art. Instead of criticizing these diversions, the artist, a ubiquitous presence throughout the series, plays with them. In fact, the artist immerses herself in these illusions by projecting scenes, building sets, watching television, reading and remembering. The artist’s active participation in creating these scenes converts them into expressions of her own imagination where she is not limited to a time or place.
The series was created with watercolor, thin acrylic wash, ink, graphite, flocking, gold leaf and archival newsprint. Images were drawn and painted from magazines, newspapers, photographs, Victorian postcards, posters and YouTube clips. The images were appropriated by the artist’s imaginary world.
These paintings were born from playful impulses. They are expressions of love, fandom, fear, admiration, romanticism and the modern consciousness. The series tells of accepting modern culture, not as it appears on the screen or the page, but imbued with imagination.
Claire Stigliani’s work demonstrates a trust in her artistic impulses and interests. Any idea — no matter how vain, silly, or dark — is considered. Stigliani externalizes her internal thoughts in hopes that they connect with others. But, above all, she challenges her viewers to join the game. The paintings invite the viewers to play with their own interests and obsessions.
(for more information on Claire Stigliani, visit her website)
Andrea Guzzetta’s artwork often incorporates allegory to explore human connectivity. She reflects upon her own life and experience using classic iconography from mythology and folklore in creating symbolic imagery. The style in which she paints resonates Neoclassicism enhanced with Guzzetta’s signature colors of hot pink and bright teal. Each of her five pieces in the exhibition presents a tug-o-war between elements (life/death, power/humanity, love/pride, truth/myth).
Andrea Guzzetta is a graduate of Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design. Her piece titled “Blood Nectar”, which is in this exhibition, was the winner of the Audience Favorite Prize in our 2014 Annual Members Show.
(for more information about Andrea Guzzetta, visit her website)
From the artist’s website:
Duality is the major theme of Kristen Ferrell’s work. The conflicting imagery of beauty vs. grotesque; innocence and rage; id vs. superego. Being raised in a quiet, God-fearing Kansas home, and being plagued with constant violent rebellious tendencies forced her to express internal conflicts through artistic outlets. Influenced by artists such as Albrecht Dürer, Goya, and Hieronymus Bosch, she voices her confusion with human behavior through classical symbolism, but in modern terms. Using the classical meaning behind the objects and animals represented in her work, she relays her reactions and observations to subjects such as self-betrayal, guilt, who we are vs. who we wish to be, the heartbreak that presents itself when dealing with others, and the ways we fail ourselves for the sake of the people we chose to care about.
Kristen currently resides in Southern California with her husband and 16 year old son. In addition to her artwork and gallery shows, she is the sole owner and operator of Kristen Ferrell Clothing & Accessories- a clothing line based on her artwork and illustrations. If it weren’t for the warm and loving support of coffee, she would not be able to balance the stresses of being a mom, gallery deadlines, and running a clothing line.
Thank you, coffee.
(for more information on Kristen Ferrell, visit her website)
Statement from artist:
[In my work I] try to capture a character at a moment in time (or perhaps more so, a moment out of time). The female figures in these paintings are stagnant, as if they were temporarily suspended inside the scene behind them–like a photographer had come upon them and snapped a shot before moving on. They are each embellished in some way, be it with crowns, jewels, bones or tattoos, and are often portrayed with subdued expressions even if their surroundings are chaotic. They meet this chaos, and even their own solitude, with grace and calm.
In the Realm of Innocents is sponsored in part by a generous donation from the Joseph R. Pabst Fund of the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.
2015 exhibitions are supported in part by grants from the Greater Milwaukee Foundation Mary L. Nohl Fund, CDBG Milwaukee, Milwaukee County Arts Fund, and grants from the Milwaukee Arts Board and the Wisconsin Arts Board with funds from the State of Wisconsin and the National Endowment for the Arts.