Susan Connell “Gestures”

unframed image 4Susan Connell’s “Gestures” is a series of oil stick and oil pastel drawings on paper. In this series of drawings Susan examines and illustrates the connection between the gesture of a hand and the unconscious mind.

Connell’s fascination with the Jungian theory of the collective unconscious serves as an underpinning for her work. By focusing her drawings on hands, the slightest curve of a finger or suggestion of a touch, Susan portrays the core of humanity— both tragic and hopeful. Hands act as powerful symbols for ideas like protection or care. Looking at Susan’s body of work one sees image-after-image of hands shielding, nurturing, or helping another figure. “I feel soullessness and “mean spirit” has seeped into our culture. I hope my work encourages people to feel and care for others again”.

Connell’s minimal use of line and color is a testament to how little information one needs in order to communicate. Connell can draw a simple white slender figure standing alone on the palm of an oversized hand eliciting feelings of both hope and melancholy. The viewer is able to connect to Susan’s imagery through a universal understanding of the gestures.

Connell’s process is intuitive and her composition often reveals itself as the work progresses. “I believe the creative process is the most important thing of all…colors change, designs morph, but the core of my idea remains the same”.

Susan Connell is a graduate of Colorado Women’s College. She received her master’s degree from Claremont Graduate School where she studied under Phil Dike and Paul Darrow. Susan’s paintings and drawings have been shown in galleries, and universities throughout Southern California including Los Angeles County Museum of Art. She has been a student of artist Tom Wudl for the last 10 years.

Susan Connell “Gestures”

A Walk Through with Susan Connell

postcard-5inx7in-h-frontThey come from the sub-conscious, I look at them afterwards and then I have an understanding of what they are or mean. This first one is my animus or inner voice when I find myself talking to myself (pictured above).

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This second one came after the series, toward the end. I like working with the figure, and I can’t really pin point where it came from. This series is different from earlier work since I used figures. I hadn’t ever used them that much but I had always loved drawing from the figure and I just had the urge to get back to that.

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The diver here, has similarities to the figure. I like that it is coming from my hand, sliding out from my grip but also returning to the hand. She is sad and the hand is holding her suffering but in public she is holding herself to the public. There is the public self and then the inner self.

Because I have worked with the figure so much even the abstraction have some of the same feeling as the more figurative forms. These are more geometric than my earlier work. I was just so interested in design but then I softened it. Almost art deco you could say.

Usually it is a neutral palette but the oil bars come in good strong colors that blend very well and really intrigued me. They are R & F brand. The different qualities of each color create such a beautiful texture, such as the matte finish and preserving that to maintain the subtle colors. I draw first with the pencil then I work with the oil bar, then the oil pastels, then back to the bar and then to the pencil. I use a brush, q-tips, and fingers. I also use turpentine.

Through the layers you can map the process. The many many layers, that it requires to create opaque color since the medium itself is fairly transparent. Like the white here you can see some of the tracing, the pencil underneath, left  on purpose to give some of the shadowing effects

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This one has some gold and copper, with the broken hair. I liked doing her, I enjoy the process and not the end goal. She is a repeating character for sure, with the broken hair. Hair is a new element since some of these figures are bald and exploring that element as an addition to the same figure.

Each one takes several weeks because the oil bars take a long time to dry. I work on them in the pencil and keep working, but once the oil bar goes down I have to step away for almost a week and some of the darker colors are even longer drying time.

The white ones have more apparent layers since there is far less medium. The hands are always protecting or nurturing, keeping this thought or person away from the other, creating a barrier with implied rigidity.

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Filter, it is filtering out what is happening today or in kindness from the future generation or innocents which is why the mouth is open. the innocent character that is lacking detail and is unformed.

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This piece was made right after the women’s march down town, expressing my feelings about the current situation. Marching in the 60’s, having to march again now, that it is having to happen again. This hand is strong and sturdy. A fatigued figure, still walking, marching, but exhausted.

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and then on this wall a series of three, we called them crying pieces,  in terms of story and composition were placed together when curated. They are just an expression of tears, this is “tears”  and it is the collective unconscious of the world, can it is cry, broken pieces.  This figure is stretching on to do something else, everyone of the hands are based on photographs my husband has taken of my hands. I love the figure and have an appreciation for the movements of the body, as I have a background in dance.

This piece because of the color and shape have a very specific connotation. I would say that first of all on the surface, public way, I don’t like the way that formal religions have affected the world. I don’t like how it has moved in to our government and justifying that oppression using religion and the muslim world. Any of those founders or saints of those religions would be crushed and appalled with what it has done. An institution that doesn’t serve humanity, and you can feel that. It is being said with very little information, communicating a very sad story. Another aspect is that sadness that comes with a lack of faith. I do not have faith.

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Here is that same lady figure from before. She is very thin, and cut out of tissue paper, the artwork exists as a small cutout, here. It is another exploration of hair, a feeling of emptiness and remorse, crisis and panic. All of the hair you will find, something special and hidden.

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These pieces also have red coloring, they work independently however, this is about protection, there is a figure that is leaving, facing away and is being protected from that experience. The hands represent both a single being or many characters. It is up to the viewer to decide who the hands belong to.

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“A woman of an undetermined age”. I love women that are my age and I think that have a great sense of humor. I wanted to do a piece with a little bit of humor.

A Walk Through with Susan Connell

A History of Allen Harrison

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Revisiting Allen Harrison’s methods of abstraction and careful attention to detail, we are taken on a journey through varying landscapes across the world.

“Harrison’s depth of sincerity… brings the Mark Rothko lineage to mind. His paintings are built up of layered surfaces of color, dark and lush, smooth as glass to the touch but opaque and soft to the eye… Each change in light alters their surfaces, making the ambiguity of material as compelling as their dark presence in the room.” – Sandy Ballatore

Allen Harrison’s approach to oil painting has established a marriage between the abstract and real world landscapes and concepts to create eye-catching, one-of-a-kind works. Be sure to see Harrison’s exhibition “Current Work”, featuring nineteen oil on panel works spanning across ten years, on view until May 21st!

Articles from ARTnews ArtWeek LATimes-1

A History of Allen Harrison

Allen Harrison: A Look Back

 

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Today we step back in time to 1985 with a look back on Allen Harrison’s long standing expanse of abstractions. Featured in the Los Angeles Times, the article reads “Allen Harrison’s geometric abstractions evidence an unshakable faith in the tenets of modernism.” It goes on to say “The crisp, cool colors Harrison favors… lend the work a meditative quality.” – Kristine McKenna.

Harrison has maintained elements of abstraction with worldly influences lingering beautifully in the shadows. “On one level, both Harrison’s oils and drawings explore tonal changes rather than contrasting color combinations. Shifts in gray, in his studies, are paralleled by mahogany red adjoining more primary red or a luminous green bordered by a murky one in paintings.”

Articles from ARTnews ArtWeek LATimes-3

See Harrison’s exhibition “Current Work”, on display until May 21st!

Allen Harrison: A Look Back

David Furman: A Look Back

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Today we take another step back in time and revisit the extensive ceramic works of David Furman. Furman has continued his career of sculpture, moving from his earlier representations of the human existence onto hyperrealistic sculptures that elicit feelings of nostalgia and content. This article from the Harvard Crimson reads “His work emerges from not material but ideas, which grow out of his personal experiences and explorations of the people and world around him.” – Raquel A. Schreiber

Portrait of an Artist- David Furman | Arts | The Harvard Crimson copy

David Furman has been exploring the world of ceramics throughout his career, teaching sculpture practices to youth around the world. His attention to detail and choice of familiar objects make for a nostalgic artistic experience, and one not soon forgotten. Be sure to see his exhibition “Stories from Reality”, on display in the Project Room until May 21st!

David Furman: A Look Back

David Furman: Artist Statement

Crayos and Pencils

For much of my art life I have been curious about the common object. I find in them a simple, el- egant beauty in the stories they tell. My realist ceramic art, drawn from those objects include work from several simultaneous directions. The tin cans/brushes, drawing and chalkboards mirror some the actual art-making implements that exist in my studio, as do a variety of other of my tools effigies. As such, they all become fair game for subject matter, as I continue to work in the realist idiom. In

a strange way, this art work is “as American as apple pie”; what parent or guardian hasn’t taken an empty tin can from the kitchen and transformed it into a pencil holder for their child? It wouldn’t be unusual to find pliers, hammers, wrenches in the garage/studio (as are some of mine), in a bucket, or hanging and outlined on the wall. The trompe l’oeil “cheese plates” could be the ultimate me- ta-commentary about opening receptions and what makes the art world go round. All these clay sculptures become “ersatz” objects, and create for me a record of human activity in contemporary culture.

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I’ve never thought of art making as a team sport. I work in relative isolation in a private studio. Mak- ing art is hard work for me. It is often a struggle, both physically and mentally. Forget about the central casting image of an artist; someone who gets struck by a bolt of lightning and then races
into his/her studio to create a body of art work that shakes the very foundations of the art world. It has never, at least for me, been like that. It is just like a day job; hard work. There are good days and rough days/nights. I don’t do it because I have fun, although sometimes it is fun to do. It isn’t therapy, but it grounds me and helps me make sense of the world; especially during this troubled time. Doing art can be exhausting, but sometimes causes me to feel ecstatic; it is always challenging. Making art for me is like a long slow climb up a hill. I hope I never get to the horizon.

David Furman: Artist Statement

Allen Harrison: Artist Statement

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Over time I have noticed that the idea of juxtaposing elements has almost always been in my work. This was not even something I was conscious of, just something I did. In my current work I have taken this notion a step further by juxtaposing differing images in a more conceptual way. I take photographs of clouds and other natural images then project them over collages made from tracings of Tibetan Thangka paintings. The tracings are altered by adding contour lines, then I cut the tracings and lay out a collage. I have an interest in the aesthetics of the Thangka paintings, not the stories they tell, or their meaning. By cutting them into a collage I keep the rhythm and the elegance of the Thangka paintings without attempting to evoking their actual content or meaning.Although the paintings seem somewhat realistic, my interest is in the abstract aspect buried deep in the paintings. This complex “system” allows me to focus on the day to day painting process. The little choices and problems to be solved is where I find meaning.

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All of the experiences we have in our lives, for the most part, form the person we are. One very powerful experience I had was Art College. I had a very structured education in art. The one skill I learned was drawing. I pick figurative drawing because it is a skill that is easy to judge success. Drawing trains you to look and translate 3-dimentions into 2-dimentions. Learning this skill takes a lot of the mystery out of the world we look at daily. Learning this skill has a lot of other positive aspects, one very important thing is how you look at the world, you see the world in a more objective or abstract way.

In my work I am using the skills I have acquired over my life. I have discovered I have no desire to “send a message” I hope to create paintings in which the viewer interprets for themselves if they feel the inclination.  the great film director John Ford when asked what message he was trying to send with his movies he said, “if I want to send a message I’ll call western union”. As funny as this was it was also shrewd, inviting the viewer to draw their own meaning.

Gradually, I have developed a method of working that is a kind of series of experiments. The idea is to make abstract paintings in a different way, by putting two seemingly incongruous ideas, or images together. Part of this is a notion that if you understand what you are doing completely you are not pushing hard enough. I am most excited when I am a little uncertain of the eventual success of the painting.

Allen Harrison: Artist Statement