Small Talk references a typical form of surface-level conversation and our desire as artists to communicate so much more than that. The ways in which we communicate with each other as artists and the ways we interact with our work as it is created is our concern. Furthermore, we seek to addresses the larger conversation our work has with a viewer, location, and art history as a whole. The individual paintings from this particular group of artists, brought together in the same space, create the opportunity to spark new conversations between the work, the artists, and the viewers. Our aim is to encourage conversations that transcend polite “small talk” both in the gallery and in the public sphere. The conversation of what is valued in contemporary art is in constant flux. Each generation of artists focus on different concerns and questions. The importance of communication and interaction with the past, present, and future, is key. Voicing our interests and listening to our collective community is important to all the MFA candidates herein. We believe that conversation can create new meaning and allow us an opening to find common ground; something we desperately need in the world today. We are interested in exhibiting a variety of painting approaches in an open and expressive collection of new work. Some members of our group are concerned with the way we communicate thoughts, memories, and emotions.
Jana Anderson’s abstracted landscapes explore a conversation between internal structures and their external environments. Referencing geometric shapes and perspective lines she seeks to link the visual with the way we think. Her paintings depict pathways through chaos, which reference the complicated nature of neuropathways in the brain. The work of Dorothy Portin is a response to personal memory as an act of fictionalization, interpretation and invention. Her expressive paintings focus on falsification and invention used by all people each time a memory is accessed, and the ways through which this can be communicated. Thomas Kennedy deals with memory in another way. He reconstructs inaccessible historical scenes composed from archival images of famous events or from the lives of individuals. Catherine Mulligan's work spans painting and collage, mixing painterly illusionism with pigment transfers and mixed media. Memory and photography (particularly their respective errors) are her reference materials, along with direct observation. Through these varied techniques Mulligan engages in a dialogue with art history and contemporary modes of viewership, including mass reproduction and technology. Genevieve Cohn's paintings walk the line between the "real" world and a world shaped by emotional perceptions. She depicts strong women who are navigating, fixing, and holding together the strange world-scapes they inhabit. She engages with ideas about women in art, as both creators and subjects. Others in our group focus on a tactile interaction between the work and the viewer. Mitch Raney transforms his interactions with the world into tactile visual objects. Whether representational or abstract, his work is rooted in shared experiences and a desire to improve the human condition. Expressive and visceral, Mitch tends to paint from the gut more than from his brain.
Su A Chae similarly seeks to communicate diversity, restoration of balance, and love and respect for humankind. In her Korean ancient wrapping cloth-inspired work, this philosophy is made clear through the decorative structure of the traditional patchwork combined with her contemporary language of using both hard-edged grids and improvisation. Alongside this wider cultural lens, Su A is constantly looking inward and seeking a conversation with the self. Benjamin Lowery paints clusters of intertwined forms creating an intimate and sensuous space. The forms interact in a series of spatial tensions flipping back and forth in conversation with each other and the painting surface activating a sense of tactility and ambiguity. Mollie Hosmer-Dillard creates paintings that respond to local Indiana landscapes. She is fascinated by the variety of layers present in nature, the way trees, leaves and branches speak to each another in conversations which overlap, criss-cross, and interrupt. Mollie seeks to recreate these conversations among different visual layers in the materiality of her work as well. The last three artists in our group deal with the real and the mundane in order to understand existence. I.K. Kim paints the mundane scenes of the road with minimal values to mimic the obscurity and uncertainty of life as a journey. The work of Julio Suarez is about perception, attention, and embracing the mundane. He believes that the interaction with the subject through direct observation is the only way to really see and understand. The only ingredient in Jen Clausen’s work is Belief. She paints things that don’t exist, so that people will believe in them. She also paints things that do exist, right next to the non-existent things. This is called a ‘contradiction’, which is another way of saying ‘the way things are every day, all the time, but we just ignore it.’ The spectrum of painters represented herein showcase a wide range of topics, energies, and processes. It is our hope that “Small Talk” makes plain the versatility and integrity of the IUB Painting program, while opening the door to new conversations in relation to contemporary art and our society as a whole.