Columbia MFA Painting Show 'Whams of Summer' Showing Now
BY Zoe Contros Kearl, August 19, 2019
Current students Henry Anker, Patrick Bayly, Susan M B Chen, Yifan Jiang, James J.A. Mercer, Kathryn Ann Miller, Stipan Tadic, Kiyomi Taylor, Meredith Pence Wilson, and Mark Yang all have work on display as a part of Columbia’s MFA Painting Show, Whams of Summer, curated by Ki Smith. The exhibition is on view from August 3-August 24, 2019 at the Ki Smith Gallery in Harlem.
Though he spent the first three years of his life in Arkansas, Henry Anker moved to California in 1998. Drawing on the traditions of American landscape painting and utopian theory, he creates allegorical landscapes in flux. In his recent work, Ivan Chtechglov’s house on tracks, Charles Fourier’s androgynous plants, Ernst Bloch’s pitcher, and Walter Benjamin’s rainbows all configure into the compositions, creating a new symbolic language drawn from their respective source materials. Anker’s paintings Paradise, CA (1–3) were made after the artist moved to NYC and learned that the town where he had once lived had scorched: “I was looking through my sketchbooks and found three life studies I had made a year before not far from Paradise. The drawings were quick, faint, and stained. I was struck by how their faded quality resembled media images of things covered in ash or enveloped in smoke.” Anker received his BA from the University of California, Los Angeles.
Patrick Bayly was raised in West Virginia. His narrative painting featured offers a close examination of variation within a form, through the consideration of a leaf. As the artist describes: “The leaf being not its neighbor, not identical, not exchangeable, but unfolding one after the other, into the perceived space occupied by the plant.” Along with his creation of narrative paintings, Bayly collaborates in New York City with a group of art students hailing from his native West Virginia. They’ve thrown an illicit barbecue under a bridge, helped children create a gallery exhibition of work sourced from found objects, and transformed a friend’s studio into a rogue bar for a night. Bayly received his BFA at West Virginia University, and participated in the 2018 session of the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture.
Susan M B Chen is a first-generation American. She grew up between Hong Kong and the United Kingdom during the handover—the period during which the United Kingdom passed control over the colony of Hong Kong to China—prior to moving to the United States to attend Brown University, where she received her B.A. Honors in Visual Arts and International Relations. Chen’s current work questions the visibility, or invisibility, of Asian and Asian American representation in Western art institutions, particularly in the realm or portraiture. She describes how she’s “had the fortunate learning opportunity of investigating the psychology of race and various perspectives of [her] portrait sitters on their ideas of identity, home, heritage, immigration, prejudice, family, longing, love and loss” within a society “where Asian American faces are less frequently shown in everyday media.” Her work has been exhibited by the United Kingdom Parliament, Shanghai Hosane Auction House, SPRING/BREAK Art Show, Perry & Marty Granoff Center for the Creative Arts, Brown University Investment Office, and is part of private collections in several international cities. She is a finalist for the 2019 AXA Art Prize.
Yifan Jiang was born in Tianjin, China, and grew up in Vancouver, Canada. Her practice—which sits at the nexus of philosophy, theology and science—works to extend, subtract, fold, and compose the mundane with subtle absurdity and deadpan humor. Using categories and systems drawn from multiple cultures and disciplines, she weaves narratives and imageries that elucidate the sense of estrangement of being human. Of her installation Library, Jiang writes, “During unreasonable hours, fluorescence obliterates all sanitized surfaces in the library. Shavings, leafs, peels, paper pages dry and curl. Vacuums of empty thoughts calcify into tiny, vivid packets. Unsolicited wonders punch holes in the integrity of reality. I should be asleep by now. The slippery tail of reason slips away between watery fingers.” Jiang holds a BFA from Emily Carr University of Art and Design. Her recent exhibitions include Pivots and Spins at Access Gallery and Precarium at Plaza Project Space.
James J.A. Mercer deals in painting, drawing, video, and sound. In his work, definite structures of clarity and geometry are in tension with malleable concepts of vulnerability and narrative uncertainty. These paintings communicate a conflation of time and space in two-dimensional form. His hand-drawn grids, a departure from Mercer’s early use of screen-printed graph paper are, as the artist says, “irregular, dirty, wavering. Tiny filthy institutions. It’s certainly resonant with my day-to-day, in which I move between a number of heavily trafficked, touch stained boxes.” Mercer received a bachelor’s degree in Printmaking from Rhode Island School of Design. In 2014, he was a resident at Clocktower Productions, and has exhibited at Pioneer Works and The Drawing Center.
Kathryn Ann Miller spent her entire life in a small city in East Tennessee. Her paintings reflect on the everydayness of mortality and the idea of an alternate universe often visited in dreams. Miller has a unique relationship with death on both personal and clinical levels. She is survived by two of her former lovers and has spent intimate time cleaning the bones of decomposed human volunteers at Dr. Bass’s Forensic Anthropology Center, crudely nicknamed “The Body Farm.” Says the artist: “The South is a bizarre place of isolation and ignorance, ironically surrounded by the spiritual beauty of nature, mountains, lakes, and flora: the Bible Belt is a real thing (so is the Psychedelic South). Making art is a way to reflect on what makes us who we are, and is a way to cope with the parts of us that were molded by others.” Miller holds a BA in Anthropology, a minor in Hispanic Studies, and a BFA in Studio Art from the University of Tennessee. Her recent solo exhibitions include Rest/Stop at Gallery 1010 and Glitter Prison at Central Flats and Taps.
The subject-matter of Stipan Tadić’s current work draws heavily from American popular culture—directly referencing John Carpenter’s Escape from New York (1981) and its sequel, Escape from L.A. (1996) and images of fast food—while being positioned within more classical forms and narratives of art. Of his painting Escape from America, Tadić says: “The paintings stand as icons of modern myths about America and the dystopian visions of technological progress created by films from the 1980s.” Tadić received his M.A. in Painting from the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb. His first solo show was in 2009, and since then, he has had over 20 solo exhibitions and 40 group exhibitions. He has executed public murals for over eight years, and published his first comic book in 2014 titled Parisian Nightmares. Tadić is the main organizer of the biennial exhibition of Antisalon, and is co-founder of the artist groups Gluteus and Ilirian Dragon. He is the recipient of several awards, domestic and international.
Kiyomi Quinn Taylor grew up in South Orange, New Jersey. Her work in this show is part of her series From the Stars, which fixates on the circular nature of time. In these works, Taylor integrates the literary devices of foreshadowing and repetition in her paintings to draw connections between the generations of her family. By incorporating elements of old family photographs into stills from the two television series Star Trek: First Generation (from the 1960s, one of her father’s childhood favorites) and Walking with Dinosaurs (which aired in the 1990s), she creates drawing collages. The ancient past of Dinosaurs plays against the distant future of Star Trek bookending the continual photographic documentation of Taylor’s family. Taylor says that the placement of these photographs within the times and places of the shows, “suggests that the inner life of a family (always creating and closing new chapters in and of itself) contains all the circular repetitions, oscillating tragedies and miracles, and poeticism of fictional narratives.” Taylor received her BFA from NYU in 2017.
Born in Missouri, Pence Wilson’s paintings relay both personal and classic tales of the vastness the rule of nature in landscapes dominated by both wide open spaces and ragged wilderness. Her trip alone through Texas, New Mexico, Arizona, Utah, Colorado, and Kansas, informed these two works, which capture the dynamic storytelling and mythology of the American West. Growing up, when a tornado strikes her hometown, Wilson tells how, “we open the windows because we were told to as kids, by parents who were told to as kids, by parents who thought the pressure drop would explode a shut-up house. We imagine a man wrangling something as terrible and mysterious as a tornado; we revere a woman scout in the Wild West. These are two paintings about power.” Wilson graduated with a BFA from Pratt Institute. She worked as a crew member at the City Museum in St. Louis, and had her first solo exhibition at Grease 3 Gallery in 2018.
Mark Yang immigrated with his family from South Korea to Los Angeles in 2003. With a focus on figuration, color, composition, and paint application, he admires and draws from the Mannerists, particularly their impulse to make possible their impossible imaginations of the human body. His own studies of the human form are focused on how the contemporary audience’s understanding of the nude is disproportionately geared toward the female body, and he therefore fixates on the male nudes. In these paintings, Yang uses two popular western art subjects: the seated and reclining nudes, composed with an unnatural palette and exaggerated details of human anatomy. He completed his B.F.A. from Art Center College of Design in 2017, and has had numerous exhibitions and teaching positions in the past several years.
Ki Smith Gallery
712 W 125th St
New York, NY 10027
11:00 am-7:00 pm