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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Whitney Stansell opens her book at the Swan Coach House

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  • Courtesy Whitney Stansell

Whitney Stansell will present her latest body of work, a multi-volume hand-printed book, at the Swan Coach House this Thursday, October 7. The Happening, the Remembering, The Recounting will exhibit three books as well as the drawings that the books were based on. Stansell has been pretty busy lately - Between You and Me, her massive collaboration with husband and video artist Micah Stansell, was the highlight of Flux 2010 for many - but she made some time to share few peeks at these books and explain a little about the project.

Your last show at Whitespace worked around a story from your family history. Do the characters explored in The Happening, The Remembering, The Recounting overlap with the characters in that narrative?

Yes, these characters, like those in my previous work, are pulled from family stories and neighbors in my hometown. The characters' lives collectively span a period over the past 100 years.

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  • Courtesy Whitney Stansell

In the narrative world of this latest show, is there a specific story tying these nine characters together?

There is not a single story relating these characters. The title of the work offers a glimpse into the characters' common ground; The Happening, The Remembering, The Recounting is what everyone does in their life, first living quotidian events, recalling them perhaps years later, and finally sharing the stories with others. Thus, these characters in life vignettes can spark introspection and are inherently relatable, both to each other and to those peeking in the pages. A deeper connection, which interweaves this body of work to those previous, is my interest in my mother's history. Stories of my mother's childhood, filtered through first her memory and then mine, found a natural setting in my historic neighborhood. As I worked mimetically, my interest grew about the neighbors I encountered both in life and in story, and the insight I gained found expression in this work.

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  • Courtesy Whitney Stansell

Why did you decide to work within a book format? Does this relate to your interest in working with narrative?

In 2008, I created a limited edition book which acted as the narrative context for the drawings in my thesis exhibition, titled A First Date, A Funeral, and Moments In Between. After creating that work I recognized the difference between a two-dimensional work and the intimacy created when art is handled and experienced personally. Interest met opportunity in 2009, when I was awarded the Atlanta Printmakers' Studio Artist Residency, and decided to again pursue creating a body of work that was based in book form. I enjoy the contradiction inherent in this body of work. Although loosely narrative, the work requires the viewer to bring personal experience to bear in creating context, which is juxtaposed in the book form traditionally expected to tell a linear, cohesive story.

The Happening, the Remembering, The Recounting opens at the Swan Coach House on Thurs., Oct. 7 at 6 pm.

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