Curated by Dion Johnson, New Histories is a group exhibition of paintings and sculptures by Walpa D’Mark, June Edmonds, Asad Faulwell, and Erin Trefry. With an idiosyncratic use of images, and signifiers, these artists offer access into rich visual worlds of personal reflection, layered symbolism, and prophetic vision.
Looking at Walpa D’Mark’s canvases we enter imaginary worlds of memory and emotion where we find beauty and conflict. Deep twilight tones cast these worlds in a dream-like space, and auras of color hover above vails of shadows. Weaving layers of representational imagery into expressive abstract passages, these paintings obscure and reveal fragments of narratives that are charged with social and political themes. By juxtaposing cultural iconography and political portraiture D’Mark presents a highly personalized view of the past and vision of the future that seems to question how we understand social signifiers and how we recognize individual identity. Amid the hide and seek of motifs and meanings a masterful sense of color and compositional balance unites the shifting energy of these poetic moments.
June Edmonds’ paintings are formally rigorous employing careful precision and textural brushwork to compose rows, bands, and grids of complex color juxtapositions. This methodical order, color theory, and attention to detail are orchestrated to create a large image of a mandala or a flag. The mandala works present a spiritual space and their repetition of color and pattern allude to meditation and introspection. Edmonds’s flag pieces explore notions of identity, race, and gender. “Innocence” 2020 is a horizontal canvas that uses the format of a confederate flag and has a palate of pastels. Many rows and stripes of subtle pinks, peaches, tans, and whites make up the ground, and two corner to corner bands of various light blues compose the X. Narratively this painting can be read as a removal of the richness of color and a push towards “lightness” as a false ideal of purity or innocence.
Asad Faulwell’s portraits are an excellent example of interior/exterior. How do we appear to others? How do we engage with our environment? What’s going on inside? What are we willing to reveal? Who are we below the surface? In Faulwell’s modestly scaled densely packed paintings, women’s faces are painted with subdued gray tones and dark eyes creating a mask or ghost like presence. These portraits are part of a continuing series titled “Les Femmes d’Alger” and depict women who actively participated in the effort to resist the French colonialism of Algeria. Their empty eyes become access points, and these ocular portals seem to unlock the elaborate patterning of their clothing and the imaginary backgrounds. The blossoming architectural geometry is amplified with vivid color and appear to embody and celebrate the depth and beauty of their interior selves.
Whether assembling objects into sculptures or painting abstract forms on a canvas, Erin Trefry’s work taps into the subconscious spaces of an elusive identity. Her bold wall-mounted sculptures are comprised of purse handles, glazed stoneware, stainless steel, drawer pulls, and other various components. The found objects, some of which are inherited from family, add a sense of nostalgia. With an intricately overlapping symmetry, these compositions allude to Rorschach forms that are simultaneously building toward subjective imagery and dispersing into pure abstraction. On Trefry’s canvases colorful tangles of abstract brushwork swirl and intertwine. The sinuous networks of looping colors appear to be evolving into still-lives or stage scenes. Instead of flowers and fruit, or actors and dancers, these mysterious spaces are filled with thoughts and feelings that yearn for our attention.