Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Preview: Sprout at Kibbee Gallery

Posted By on Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 12:00 PM

Kelly Cloninger
  • Kelly Cloninger

Now that winter is a distant, miserable memory here in Atlanta, our parks, neighborhoods, and gardens are filling up with the unstoppable blooms and fresh growth of summer. Sprout at Kibbee Gallery is perfectly timed for that botanical explosion, featuring four artists that explore nature in fascinating detail. Kelly Cloninger, Katherine Gaddy, Julia Kubica and Pam Rogers all work with organic imagery but Kibbee Gallery curator Ann-Marie Manker has carefully chosen a group whose styles compliment one another without repetition.

Sprout doesn't open until May 1, but the artists were kind enough to give us a peek at their work from the show and field a few questions about nature. Their answers after the jump.

by Pam Rogers
  • by Pam Rogers

Pam Rogers

What's your background?

I was born and raised in Colorado,attending the University of Colorado in Boulder studying Anthropology and Art History. I also received my certification in Botanical Illustration in a program developed at Kew Gardens and the Denver Botanic Gardens. I then moved to Boston where I lived for 14 years, graduating with a degree from Wellesley College and going on to become the Curator of Visual Resources at Wellesley College and teaching Art History in a small private school. I moved to Atlanta in 2005, first working at Emory University in the Visual Resources Dept. then leaving to work on my MFA full time at SCAD Atlanta. I graduated in 2008 and moved to Washington DC where I am currently living and working. I have have an active studio practice as well as working part time for the Smithsonian as an illustrator in the Natural History Dept and I just received the Curatorial Initiative Fellowship for 2010 from the DC Center for the Arts. I try to maintain a presence in Atlanta and hope to continue showing frequently in the city. I also have an upcoming solo show in DC at the Hillyer Art Gallery in DuPont Circle.

Can you describe your process for Sprout?

When I started pulling together ideas for Sprout, I started with a project I have been focused on since last summer - creating work that originates from plants. I have been making plant based pigments and using them as the base for paintings and continuing on to develop the work with specific imagery. One aspect this year that impacted the work was based on the harsh winter we had in DC this year. We had a period of three weeks where it was hard to do anything but get to the studio and back- 67 inches of snow piled up and there was very little plant life peaking out anywhere. I had very little pigment left and was looking for new ways to draw on plants as the base for my work. My studio is on the third floor and I started getting wonderful shadows cast inside my studio from the trees- used the shadows either drawn or painted on paper to begin the work and it took off from there.

Throughout the process of creating work for Sprout, I kept in mind and kept revisiting the basic plant imagery. I knew that I wanted to compliment the work on paper with some of my sculpture and the challenge will be to get it up and finished in the short time I will be in Atlanta before the opening. I usually created sculptures that are 10 ft. or larger but this one will be a smaller yet it will still have the details- the sewn up blossoms and hardware I use in the larger ones.

What drew you to work with organic imagery or botanical motifs?

My work has always been based in botanic imagery. My grandfather and my mother have been avid gardeners and I grew up with nature playing a primary role in my childhood. I have had gardens in high altitudes, near the ocean and currently have one designed by a Japanese landscape artist. My husband's family are farmers and I have always spent time outdoors, either skiing, biking or hiking. I think that I have always seen plants as metaphor for the events and people in my life and that narrative creates what has been described as a form of "botanic magic realism" in my work. There is also an elegance to the line of organic imagery that is seductive for me.

What inspiration do you draw from nature?

As silly as it may sound, I love the way a leaf curls and have a strange fascination and love with buds, blossoms and leaves as they decay. My memories of place, relationships and events all seem to involve some aspect of nature- a smell of a plant, the look of plants as Fall sets in and how the colors begin to fade. I love the new buds pushing out in early spring. I find comfort in the recognition of a landscape and familiar plants in the same way I find comfort in seeing old friends. That said, I also love the subtle creepy aspect of nature- the haunting skeleton of winter Kudzu, the smell of decay in the woods after rain, the way vines crawl and choke and bind other plants ultimately restricting the growth. I find it fascinating how we have set out to control nature- pruning plants to conform to what we desire, grafting plants to create new ones, hybrid plants, and the general idea of what really is an invasive species.

Nature is so much a part of our lives, where we live, where we have come from that it is something an individual can relate to when they recognize it in my work- they can bring their own narratives to the work using this connection.

by Katherine Gaddy
  • by Katherine Gaddy

Katherine Gaddy

What's your background?

I'm a twenty three year old from Augusta, Georgia.

Can you describe your process for Sprout?

My process for Sprout began with deciding what elements or forms to use in nature and how to incorporate detail and closeness or intimacy.

What drew you to work with organic imagery or botanical motifs?

I think organic imagery is what I'm drawn to the most as an artist. For my style of mark making I find so much in every part of nature to grasp and to grow from. In even the smallest part of a tree, leaf, flower, etc., there's insane detail that I love to build on.

What inspiration do you draw from nature?

I draw all of my inspiration from nature and I connect with it on a day to day basis. I'm always looking, always incorporating it in some shape or form.  No detail is alike in anything organic, and that's what I love about it. There's always something new because it's always changing and morphing, always living and dying.

Kelly Cloninger
  • Kelly Cloninger

Kelly Cloninger

What's your background?

I grew up in a suburb outside of Dallas, Texas and came to Atlanta to attend the Atlanta College of Art (ACA) in 2005. Once ACA “merged” with the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), I decided to continue my undergrad there. I graduated from SCAD-Atlanta with a BFA in painting last spring.

Can you describe your process for Sprout?

My work for Sprout is a continuation of a series I have been working on for about a year, the Womb Series. This body of work communicates my personal interpretation of the womb and strives to provide the viewer a window into my world of every life’s first home. Working with materials like graphite, felt-tip pens, and gouache I create tiny fruitful, fertile, and abundant botanical environments on paper. A yarn installation surrounds each piece, encompassing them softly. Various colors of yarn are wrapped around hundreds of pins tacked into the wall, paralleling the botanical shapes found in the drawings above them.

What drew you to work with organic imagery or botanical motifs?

My work often delves into the dichotomous societal roles of the modern woman, one of these roles being the nurturing mother. Pairing this role with my consistent fascination with the idea of reproduction, the womb has always presented itself to me as this complex world of fertile abundance, overgrown with intertwined plants, fruits, and blooms.

What inspiration do you draw from nature?

I was raised to experience and appreciate nature. Camping, hiking, snorkeling, you name it, my parents were always giving my brother and I the opportunity to explore nature. These experiences have undoubtedly stuck with me over the years and I continue to connect with nature on a daily basis as well as seek it out when time allows. Despite being an avid nature lover, nature has never really been a conscious inspiration to my work. All of the botanical and organic imagery found in my drawings is purely from my imagination, possibly bits and pieces of past experiences with good ‘ole mother nature.

by Julia Kubica
  • by Julia Kubica

Julia Kubica

What's your background?

My family lives mostly in Georgia (some in Poland) and we've lived in the South my whole life. My formal training is in Graphic Design.

Can you describe your process for Sprout?

My process started with a search for a narrative with a connection to the natural world. Than building a vocabulary of nature imagery around it using cut paper.

What drew you to work with organic imagery or botanical motifs?

The nuances, details, color and endless shapes of a constantly changing process of growth.

What inspiration do you draw from nature?

No matter where I am, I always notice and appreciate something about nature everyday.

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