J. Desy Schoenewies and Erica Merchant
"Surface: Texture and Illusions"
January 11 - February 19, 2016
The Apex Gallery is pleased to announce "Surface: Texture and Illusion," an exhibition by J. Desy Schoenewies and Erica Merchant, both faculty at Black Hills State University. There will be an artist reception from 5-7 p.m. Friday, Jan. 22, with an artist
talk at 6 p.m. in the gallery. The exhibit will run through Friday, Feb. 19.
J. Desy Schoenewies: "Dakota Transformations"
Artist Statement: The idea of place is
a concept that is almost entirely abstract. As human society dictates, we give
a name and assign value to spaces that offers resources, beauty, shelter, or
other humanistic needs. A place forms our identity and forms the visual imprint
of our memories. We share a sense of connectedness to other people who occupy
proximity to a particular space. South Dakota, a place that of volatile weather,
rugged landscapes, and great distances between populace is largely a place that
requires a certain amount of grit and stubbornness to live in. As a newcomer to
the area, I have been both fascinated with and intimidated by this place.
Through this series, I attempt to tell the many varied stories of the people
who have come to live and interact with this intense place.
10-12 painting series juxtaposes the human figure with landscapes of eastern
and western South Dakota in ethereal and sometimes surrealistic experiences.
These exististential works suggest the attractants and the deterrents many
people have with living in the Great Plains and the Black Hills, spoken through
images of reality and the imagined. The works attempts to examine our ability
to coexist with all the factors of survival and history within such an
inspiring yet wild space. Using layered imagery and surrealistic notions, I
attempt to create a multilayered visual dialog in my paintings. Much of this
imagery serves as personal metaphor to my
relocation to South Dakota from major urban areas.
ideas begin with simple conversations with the people I have met. I ask about
their background, what place means to them, and why did they
come to this particular place. I take extensive photographs; every time I cross
the state I carry my camera with me. When I have collected some images that
speaks of a story, I use Photoshop to put together the elements of the
composition. I start with my photos, find patterns if necessary, move images
around, and develop a composition with a compelling visual literacy. From
there, I transfer the image to canvas, work in grisaille underpaintings,
and develop the tonality. My paintings tend to be a little heavier in contrast
than most other realist or figurative painters. By pushing contrast and bumping
color intensity, I give the works a dream-like stage, where they are grounded
in reality, but something is a little ‘off.’ I sometimes like to play with
linework on my edges, veering between natural visual boundaries and playing
with simultaneous contrast, through color intensity and color compliment. This
type of exemplified linework is predominant inTransplant and
in Indian on Ranch Land.
Erica Merchant: "Encapsulating Symmetry"
Artist Statement: Using the Encaustic
medium, this series of painted patterns and origami shapes began in 2015. In
these works, origami imagery is infused with fabric-styled patterns. The series
is mimicking impermanent substrates (paper and fabric) through the use of oil paint,
enamel paint, and encaustic mediums; materials with substantive lasting
qualities. By recreating shapes typically made from degradable material, I am
able to create works of art that are just as whimsical as the original designs
but in permanent form.
The inspiration for my work
is grounded in our geological history. More specifically, layers of earth
define our past and, much like memories, link our present with our immediate
past. I find the action of accidental preservation of certain objects to
be one of the most beautiful and simultaneously the most saddening experiences.
Viewing the beauty of sediment layers today belies the chaos and destruction
that took place in the past to create them. My work employs tension,
compression, and metamorphic processes. Just as geological remnants are
discovered, past memories intrude our present thoughts to evoke a nostalgic,
reflective, and pleasing narrative. My work captures the joy of coming across a
fossil and equates it to the joy of capturing an intruding memory from the
past. My work equally portrays the sorrow of realizing the deep history that
has been lost at a historical and geological level, and of personal memories
lost and irretrievable. What remains is unintentional. The past that sticks
around is not on purpose; past memories do not make themselves remain in the
strata of our minds, nor does a fossil determine its fate. The serendipity of
placement in time and space is the only determining factor as to whether
something survives to be discovered. I like to think of our memories as a
Bio: Erica Merchant lives in
Spearfish, South Dakota. She teaches Ceramics, Sculpture, and Art History
classes at Black Hills State University. Erica received her Bachelor’s degrees
in Anthropology and Humanities from University of Wyoming and her Master of
Fine Arts, emphasis Sculpture, from University of South Dakota. Erica is
a 2014 recipient of the South Dakota Arts Council Emerging Artist Grant.