I Hear Southern Voices
Southside Gallery will feature I Hear Southern Voices by painter/printmaker Andrew Blanchard and New Work by quilter Coulter Fussell through the month of November. The exhibition will be on display October 30th – December 1st. An artists’ reception is scheduled for Thursday, November 1st, 5 – 8 PM.
Andrew Blanchard’s new body of work carries on his long running theme of southern identity and dysfunction. The works explore the political, cultural and social atmosphere of the South, often with dark humor and graphic imagery. An avid reader, Blanchard also includes a number of literary references in his work – some direct, some intimated. As Blanchard states, “What began as a literary word grab as an homage to the likes of Mississippians Michael Farris Smith, Jesmyn Ward, Elizabeth Spencer, Ralph Nordan, Barry Hannah, and Larry Brown, over this past spring during my sabbatical evolved into social commentary on a national level. Not just works based upon our region in the American South, but by utilizing voices that I’m accustomed to revering in order to make a more united based visual statement.” Much of his work also examines family dynamics, interpersonal relationships and parenthood.
I Hear Southern Voices, a collection of 13 mixed media screen-prints, is one of Blanchard’s most cohesive exhibitions to date at Southside. A number of the works are centered compositionally. The symmetry of the works is visually flattering, but also necessary to the narrative of the exhibition.
Sparks Fly Upward (2018) is an example of one of Blanchard’s masterful story-telling compositions. The foreground of the composition is a square concrete patio, centered in a field of green, with a set of concrete stairs leading to nowhere on the left side. A red “Make America Great Again” baseball cap cut in two, flanks both sides of the patio. Blanchard has turned the patio at an angle, forming a diamond, which directs the eyes upward, where (left to right) the following objects all form across the horizon line — a five gallon bucket (empty and turned upside down) a fifty gallon drum with a decrepit wheelbarrow turned upside down atop it, a ladder with a gas can sitting on its top step and a blue cooler serving as a makeshift pedestal for a concrete yard sculpture. A baby pool floats in the center, directly between the wheelbarrow and the nozzle of the gas can in the background. The allegorical work is a reflection on the divisive nature of contemporary politics, but also seems to be a story about how the political chaos and incivility seeps into our domestic lives, particularly our own backyards.
Coulter Fussell’s new quilts are experimental works of art made of wide ranging materials. Unconventional textiles – natural and synthetic — such as commodity rice bags, a painted canvas, waitress aprons, reflective vests, AstroTurf and t-shirts can all be found in Fussell’s quilts on display in this exhibition. The quilts are abstract compositions, taking on unorthodox forms. Evoking a number of artistic associations and influences as varied as abstract expressionist paintings and folk art assemblages, Fussell’s quilts are visually delightful. Fussell, who is also a painter, incorporates design elements of painting into her work. Layers of materials overlap one another to develop textural and tonal changes, similar to painterly brushwork.
Money (2018) is a small square quilt consisting of two hand pieced and hand stitched halves. The left half is a repetitious series of three vertical columns – beige, crimson/rose, beige – while the right half is an amalgamation of shapes and disrupted patterns. Organic needlework — which ostensibly appears improvised, but is undoubtedly methodical and critical to the quilt’s design – forms lines on both halves that help move the eyes around the composition. Money may serve as a metaphor for imbalance. The left half representing stability (its certainty in repetition) while the right half is more disordered and chaotic – down to the fringed border of the bottom right corner.
Fussell describes her work: “My pieces are never really about anything specific on an individual basis. They are more about general associations to memory, connections through time and space, evidence of physical existence, and the wordless feelings. Mainly I think about composition, darks and lights. They’re more about the visual puzzle of beauty and balance than anything. They’re almost strictly an exercise in manipulating and an homage to the mystifying (at least to me) miracle, of sorts, that is sight and touch.”
Both Blanchard and Fussell have had past exhibitions at Southside Gallery. This is Blanchard’s seventh exhibition at Southside. His most recent exhibition was in November of 2015. This is Fussell’s second exhibition at Southside. It’s the first time she has exhibited her quilts. Fussell’s first exhibition at Southside was a 2012 show featuring her paintings.
For more information please contact Southside Gallery, 662.234.9090.
Andrew Blanchard was born in the wild swamps of Louisiana and raised on the Mississippi Gulf Coast. Like most boys who grew up next to a beach, he fished and swam until the ring of the dinner bell. As a proud graduate of the Ole Miss MFA program, his imagery delivers an honest commentary on the cultural character of the American South. His mixed-process prints on wood and paper have been included in hundreds of exhibitions and have been collected in Bulgaria, France, Hawaii, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. Blanchard’s work was recently added to the permanent collections of the Ogden Museum of Southern Art in New Orleans and the Mississippi Museum of Art in Jackson, and it is featured or forthcoming in publications including Ecotone, Electric Dirt, Printmakers Today, New American Paintings, the International Painting Annual (nos. 4 and 7), and the Oxford American, which in 2012 named him among the New Superstars of Southern Art.
Blanchard is currently the Director of Studio Art and an Associate Professor of Printmaking and Photography at Converse College in Spartanburg, South Carolina. His work is represented by Southside Gallery in Oxford, MS and M Contemporary Gallery in New Orleans, LA.
Coulter Fussell was born and raised in Columbus, Georgia, an old textile town situated on the Chattahoochee River, the eastern border of Alabama. The culture of Columbus and the surrounding river valley (including the neighboring military base of Fort Benning, housing Infantry and Airborne) play a more than significant role in Coulter’s work. Coulter’s father was an arts museum curator throughout her childhood while her mother is a life-long quilter and educator. Running through museum galleries on any given day after school and then going home to watch her mother sew for hours was standard. The combination resulted an early-developed artsview where craft and other arts are indistinguishable from one another. Painting, sculpture and textile work became one solitary entity in her mind. From youth, the combination developed into an unintentional mash-up.
Coulter relies on the no-holds barred nature of contemporary painting rules to free her compositions from the constraints of pattern. In turn, she simultaneously relies on the strict discipline of traditional craftwork to act as a self editing tool.
Coulter now lives in Water Valley, a small town in the northern Hill Country of Mississippi. There she runs her store and studio, Yalorun Textiles. Having been in the service industry for most of her life, Coulter is also a waitress in the neighboring town of Oxford, Mississippi. Coulter lives in Water Valley with her two young sons, Amos Henry and Booker, and their cat Janet.
Fussell was the 2017 winner of the ArtSouth State Fellow for Mississippi and was an ArtSouth Southern Prize Finalist. She is a recipient of a Mississippi Arts Commission Grant.