Chautauqua Artists in Residence 2022
The Erie Art Museum's Chautauqua Spotlight introduces a promising artistic partnership
Entering the Erie Art Museum's Holstein gallery, it's hard not to notice Shabnam Jannesari's Floating immediately. As a ghostly figure emerges from its gestural abstractions, this large-scale oil painting commands attention through vibrant color and rich texture. Moving closer, allusions to Iranian history are revealed through these textures. Jannesari's piece exemplifies the spirit of the exhibition, in which 14 artists from the Chautauqua School of Art's summer residency have shared their work. The group's focus is social history, collage aesthetics, and "the body as a site of celebration, censorship, trauma or healing," according to its press release.
Celebratory bodies are also on display in Kym Cooper's playful Two Dancers in Chautauqua, a mixed media piece that combines traditional painting and collaged African fabrics. Like Floating, the work examines personal history through vibrant color — but here the mood is joyous rather than dreamlike. My daughter (age 5) ran up to it immediately as we entered the gallery, exemplifying its inviting nature while also rewarding an older, more discriminating audience with dizzying patterns and sharp contrasts.
A third examination of cultural identity comes from Xayvier Houghton's Taki the Primeval, which uses rich earth tones and transferred photographic imagery to investigate Caribbean spirituality. Houghton's dense composition feels intimate and reverent at once, like a window into a baptism.
Even in non-figurative work, personal history serves as a connective tissue throughout the show. In Sara Hess' Catalog for Collection, a series of digital images are transferred to sheer fabric. These tiny pictures of tools, clothespins, and related debris render an intimate world familiar. With its evocative, handwritten labels and minimalist geometric structure, a sense of what it takes to maintain order in a chaotic universe emerges.
The Chautauqua Showcase introduces a promising new partnership between the Erie Art Museum and our bohemian neighbor in Western New York. By showcasing the work of (mostly) young emerging artists, the exhibition offers a glimpse of the national art world that might otherwise require a day trip to the Albright-Knox or the Mattress Factory. And its mixture of styles, materials, and dimensions are as diverse as the artists who made the work itself.
On display until Jan. 22, 2023 // Erie Art Museum // 20 E. 5th St. // For more information visit erieartmuseum.org