Hester Simpson

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Artist’s Statement

 

The echoes of childhood define who we are. We live in memory. — Benjamin Bush, Dust to Dust

My abstract paintings are founded in early memory, creating an emotional space that pervades my everyday life. This emotional space is what I paint. When I paint, I mix thinned acrylics to a pourable consistency, allowing an even flow over panel. I work slowly, building strata of paint in even, smooth layers, evolving mutable patterns. In this way, I record time spent, an accumulation of memory and of returning again and again to the activity of paint on panel. Color is the expressive component of my work, informed by dreams, memory, and theory. The interaction of purple, brown, green and yellow, for example comes directly from a dream, in which a visitor to my studio points to four colors on my palette and states, “These are your colors. This is what you must do.” I know immediately that these colors represent my immigrant grandparents, influential in my formative years, and essential to my present. While I play with systems of pattern and color, challenging what I know, I revisit these seminal colors during times of change.

In Letters to a Young Poet, Rilke describes this phenomenon:

And yet they, who passed away long ago, still exist in us, as predisposition, as burden upon our fate, as murmuring blood, and as gesture that rises up from the depths of time.

Such change recently occurred in the wake of my mother’s death and the clearing of my childhood home. What has emerged is a new form which pays homage to the life of trees, and how they bear witness to our own existence. My research tells me that we share 25% of our DNA with trees. As I pass them on my daily walks, they speak to me of regeneration. I respond with new paintings.

Work creates its own time. — Ad Reinhardt

Hester Simpson grew up on Long Island’s north shore in the embrace of her immigrant grandparents. Her grandfather, a painter, lavished his enthusiasm for art in every corner of life. Today, decades since his passing, Simpson credits his spirit with her own passion for her practice. Simpson studied at Carnegie-Mellon University and Cranbrook Academy of Art, and has been a Visiting Artist at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, Tyler School of Art, and The School of the Museum of Fine Arts, among others. The highlight of her 30-year teaching career, however, is in leading and evaluating workshop programs for the homeless, the disabled, and the incarcerated. Simpson is represented by more than 30 works in the William Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection, a philanthropic arm of the Harlem Children’s Zone. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a Gottlieb Foundation Grant, a Wolf-Kahn Exhibition Grant, and three residencies at The Helene Wurlitzer Foundation of New Mexico which transformed her sense of light and color, profoundly influencing her painting to this day. Simpson has exhibited her work internationally and is represented by Ricco Maresca Gallery New York City, where she has had five solo shows. Phyllis Braff of The New York Times has described her work as “mesmerizing.”

Dee Shapiro

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Artist’s Statement

 

As in a dream of alternative realities, absurd connections, or on a trip passing familiar landscapes in unfamiliar settings, new conscious and unconscious associations are brought to a 2-dimensional surface in my work. In the recent pieces, geometry (seen even in the structure of organic forms) directs composition: arbitrary drops of color undermine control and create shapes that succumb to the overwork of drawings, rendering obsessive intricacies and paint application building the forms. Collage material adds extraneous influences in a subtle blend.

In the beginning was pattern. First the Fibonacci progression color coded on graph paper, followed by a series of work that included architectural elements off the grid. With all the work, always color, a nod to the Albers studies. A redirection to small horizontal paintings of the geometry in cities and landscapes ensued for a number of years.

Missing the early fascination and engagement with pattern led to more recent work exploring evocative biological and organic forms, the evolution of which is the more recent work as well as borrowing from sources that include other artist’s work in a collaborative effort.

Another direction takes me to appropriate iconic paintings of women by well-known artists in the past and to rework those images in pattern with paint, ink and mixed media.

Always a continuum in my current practice is the exploration of pattern wherever it appears in other sources and cultures as well as imagined and combined.

In this newest body of work, I am unflinchingly forging ahead to newly wrought terrain with the underlying echoes of the beginnings.

Featured in the Pattern and Decoration exhibit at PS I, Dee Shapiro has exhibited in New York and elsewhere since the late 1970’s, with solo and group exhibitions at AIR, Andre Zarre Gallery, Everson Museum, Nassau County Museum, David Richard Gallery, Bernay Fine Art and many other galleries and museums in the US and abroad. Her work is in the collections of the S.R. Guggenheim Museum, Heckscher Museum, Albright Knox Gallery, Birmingham Museum, William Louis-Dreyfus Family Collection, and other university, corporate, and private collections.

 

A painter who also writes and makes artists’ books, Shapiro’s practice explores the intersection of pattern, nature and geometry. Her imagery is borrowed and imagined from weaving, beading and the crafts of other cultures, as well as biomorphic forms overlapping within each individual piece. She employs a variety of media and has produced several bodies of work including systemic patterning, city and landscapes, prints and large figurative mixed media pieces. She has been teaching art history and studio art at Empire State College, SUNY, and Old Westbury, NY.

Christina Haglid

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Artist’s Statement

There has always been an intersection between the process of writing and painting in my work. It has somehow been my guide. In the last six years, that connection intensified as I started writing short stories and flash fiction while taking online classes. I find the process of writing and painting so different in almost every way, but there is something freeing and generative in writing which helps my painting process. Or perhaps it’s a reminder of what painting is for me – something intuitive that needs to be trusted. And what they do have in common is a desire to encapsulate and distill a single moment, a story, about the complexity of our emotions and experiences.

My work is about something I wish I could have seen, imaginary worlds, a commentary on awe that is inspired by nature, science, and history. Objects in my work are a stand in for the figure as psychologically inspired narratives comment on the strength vs. fragility of life. Items in a painting are like words on a page. Objects, spaces, and most importantly light are placed to create meaning similarly.

Christina Haglid exhibited her artwork with Ann Nathan Gallery (1997-2016) and is now represented by Gallery Victor Armendariz in Chicago. A graduate of the Maryland Institute, College of Art, Haglid attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture in 1990 and has an M.F.A. from Cranbrook Academy of Art. Her artwork has been included in numerous gallery exhibitions, art fairs, and museum shows including Loyola University Museum of Art, Illinois State Museum, Greenville County Museum of Art, Art on Paper New York, Art Chicago, and Art of the 20th Century at the NY Armory. She is based in Chicago, IL.

Elizabeth Shull

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Artist’s Statement

A central rhythm in my work is the exploration of texture and is often combined with the disclosure of the unexpected. I am intrigued with the nuances of the natural world and the endless supply of subject matter with all its subtleties and surprises. I don’t tell you what to see but remind you to be observant and investigate beyond the surface. By layering and creating texture there seems to be an archeological direction with what is clearly visible and what is more obscure. My art practice is about the process, risk taking, discovery, and the magic of research.

Elizabeth Shull was born and raised in Southern California and lives in Los Angeles. As a painter her predominant intention is to encourage visual exploration and trigger thinking beyond the predictable. Elizabeth’s undergraduate degree is from the University of California, Santa Cruz. She holds an MFA from Otis Art Institute in Los Angeles. She has participated in many exhibitions and has pieces in several private collections.

Donté K. Hayes

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Artist’s Statement

My research and artwork are focused on the pineapple as a symbol which represents welcoming and hospitality, while also examining issues of access to food, empire, and what constitutes the feeling and or act of being welcomed. Through this research, I have discovered that the tradition of the pineapple as a symbol for hospitality is rooted in slavery and agricultural colonization of South America, the Caribbean, and the Southern United States, in particular, South Carolina and my home state of Georgia. When a new slave ship bringing enslaved Africans docked at the port, the foremen would place a pineapple at the front of the dock to notify a new shipment of enslaved Africans has arrived. This creating the pineapple as a symbol for welcoming. The investigation in the concept of welcoming is also from personal struggles as a black man navigating public spaces and environments and not feeling like I belonged or welcomed. From this research my art practice pulls from my interest in hip-hop culture, history, and science fiction. The artwork references the visual traditions from the Southern United States, Carribbean, South America, and the African continent.

I utilize clay as a historical and creative base material to inform memories of the past. The handling of clay reveals the process and shares the markings of its maker. Ceramics becomes a bridge to conceptually integrate disparate objects and or images for the purpose of creating new understandings and connections with the material, history, and social-political issues. I compare the construction and deconstruction of materials to the remix in rap music and how human beings adapt to different environments and reinvent new identities. These ceramic objects are vessels, each making symbolic allusions to the black body.

The artworks suggest the past, discuss the present, and explores possible futures interconnected to the African Diaspora. While also examining deeper social issues that broaden the conversation between all of humanity.

Donté K. Hayes graduated summa cum laude from Kennesaw State University at Kennesaw, Georgia with a BFA in Ceramics and Printmaking with an Art History minor. Hayes received his MA and MFA with honors from the University of Iowa and is the 2017 recipient of the University of Iowa Arts Fellowship. Donté, is a 2019 Ceramics Monthly Magazine Emerging Artists and Artaxis Fellow. Donté is the 2019 winner of the 1858 Prize for Contemporary Southern Art from the Gibbes Museum of Art in Charleston, South Carolina.

Mary DiDoardo

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Artist’s Statement

There is a visceral connection between viewer and painter through the surface reading of a painting. All of my research is made visible in the sensuality of oil paint, its luminosity and chameleon shifts of color. I find it difficult to breathe new life into a brush stroke but can charge expression into/out of these uniform lines through process that comes from alternately working line within, around and through the field. This process integrates and embeds the line and keeps it from being simply a design element. It draws the space. The many stages are visible and are there for the viewer to read. Consistent in most of these paintings is the underlying evidence of previous stages rising to the surface through layers built up and scraped down, enriching the final version.

Mary Didoardo is a long-time resident of Long Island City, NY. She was born in New Jersey and has lived in New York City since graduating from Pratt Institute, where she majored in sculpture. Over time, painting prevailed over sculpture, but her paintings manifest a physical and process-driven sensibility oriented in early explorations with materials. She has had two solo shows at the Kathryn Markel Gallery in 2016 and 2019. Her work was represented in “ROY G BIV,” a 3-person exhibition in 2018 at the Chautauqua Institute. She is a two-time recipient of The Enrico Donati Foundation Grant. Her work was reviewed in Too Much Art, Writings on Visual Culture by Mario Naves, who wrote: “Didoardo’s abstractions are characterized by a bracing sense of freedom. They evince an artist working not only with an enviable surety, but one welcoming of risk – which, of course, puts surety to the test. That approach may be standard operating procedure for certain strains of abstract painting, but it’s one thing to make the claim, another to pull it off. Didoardo pulls it off, and then some.”

Suejin Jo

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Artist’s Statement
As an immigrant, my work deals with the inner journey between the physical and mental landscapes of Korea where I grew up and the Western world where I have spent most of my adult life. Migration as it applies to all living creatures, including humans, is close to my heart as a subject. At Westhampton Beach, I have watched endless lines of Monarch butterflies trying to head south, fighting the strong ocean winds turning them around. It takes only a few seconds for these tiny creatures to realize something is wrong and turn themselves back to continue on their journey. I am reminded of Sebastian in Tennessee Williams’ “Suddenly Last Summer.” I have seen God!

My painting process is not unlike the Monarchs’ journey. I am seeking the heart of the matter, the deepest places my emotion carries me. Often I do not know which form this will take. But I know if it is a wrong direction when I lay down my strokes, shapes, and colors. Often this takes many trials and errors. But every hour I spend with a canvas takes me closer to the essence of what I want to say. Accidents along the way often turn out to be the right path. I think of Lee Krasner saying she got up in the morning thinking she would do a green painting but at the end of the day it became a purple painting.

I care about the picture surface. For many years I used oil and dry pigment, which required me to wear a mask and be very careful not to inhale the powder. After a decade I had to give this up for health reasons as well as the difficulty of storing and exhibiting without damage. Although I miss the deep yet clear surface yielded by the kneading of the powder into the oil paint, I have come to appreciate the way acrylic and oil paint often simultaneously create an interesting picture surface.

Suejin Jo is a Korean-born abstract painter based in New York City. She studied with Stamos and Vytlacil at the Art Students League, winning a McDowell Award juried by Richard Pousette D’art and Romare Bearden. For many years, Jo painted with a unique medium of oil and dry pigment using the process of “inlay” like Korean potters of the eleventh century. Helen Harrison of The New York Times described Jo’s painting as having “the character of an ancient wall painting.” She is the recipient of a number of awards, including the Jacob and Gwendolyn Lawrence Exhibition Award, and has exhibited nationally and internationally. Jo’s most recent solo show, Migration_Passages, opened at the John Molloy Gallery in New York City in March, 2020, but ended up in quarantine as a result of the pandemic. Her work is held in many public and private collections, including the Library of Congress and the WTC Memorial Museum. The US State Department selected Jo’s painting “Pontchartrain” to be included in its 2012 desk calendar “Homage to American Women Artists.”

Jeanne Jaffe


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Artist’s Statement
Inspired by an interest in anthropology, mythology, and psychology, my work explores how identity is forged from early pre-verbal experience through the later influences of language and culture.

In my earlier sculpture, I give concrete form to intangible sensations and barely remembered bodily experiences. This is accomplished by creating hybrid forms of mixed origins of experience – fusions of animate and inanimate worlds, simultaneously familiar yet strange. Body fragments, vegetative processes, and microscopic life fuse, mutate, and morph, and the resulting objects invite recognition while remaining mutable, suggestive, and indeterminate. Visceral experiences of longing, repulsion, fear, loss, curiosity, and discovery are elicited.

In my more recent installations such as “Little Red Riding Hood as a Crime Scene,” “Elegy for Tesla,” and “T.S. Eliot’s Four Quartets,” popular folktales, history, and literature are reimagined through a contemporary lens and made into multi-sensory environments. In these installations, sculpture, videos, interactive elements, and animation create a space for exploring the implications of these known narratives and for reimagining new perspectives.

Most recently I am working on a stop motion animation, “Alice in Dystopia,” a retelling of Lewis Carroll’s Alice in Wonderland. In this version, Alice and the Rabbit fall down the wrong rabbit hole into the contemporary world of 2020, with all of its environmental and societal ills, where the characters must find a way to confront the current crises and offer hope for renewal and change.

In all of my work different signifying systems of image, motion, language, and sound intertwine, highlighting and allowing us to reexamine different aspects of our internal and external experiences, the stories we have been told, and the assumptions we have internalized.

How we navigate multi layered experience, where signification and understanding is being endlessly reshaped, and how we create meaning and self-determination from the cacophony of sensation, memory, myth, and cultural history is the subject of all my work.

Jeanne Jaffe is a multi-disciplinary artist and a frequent visiting artist at Xian Academy of Fine Arts in China who lives in Florida with her husband and parrot Lilly. She is the recipient of grants from the Gottlieb Foundation, Pennsylvania Council on the Arts, NEA, Virginia Groot Foundation, and Mid Atlantic/NEA, among others. Her work has been exhibited at the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Art Museum, Delaware Art Museum, Michener Art Museum, Royal Scottish Academy of Edinburgh, Seokdang Museum of Art in Korea, and elsewhere. Reviews of her work have appeared in Art in America, The New York Times, and Sculpture Magazine.

Hiroyuki Hamada

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Artist’s Statement

Artists are blessed with that rare moment when everything disappears in our studios except for our works and ourselves — when we feel the profound connection to what we have worked on as it melts with the world, space and time. Such an occasion is indeed very rare but that is what I strive to capture when I struggle in my studio. As our world continues to be subservient to the hierarchy of money and violence, I believe the exploration of artists to perceive the world reaching beyond the framework of corporatism, colonialism and militarism continues to be a crucial part of being human.

Hiroyuki Hamada (b. 1968, Tokyo) has exhibited throughout the United States and in Europe. He has been awarded various residencies including those at the Provincetown Fine Arts Work Center, the Edward F. Albee Foundation/William Flanagan Memorial Creative Person’s Center, the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, and the MacDowell Colony. Hamada’s work has been featured in various publications, including Stokstad and Cothren’s widely used art history text book Art: A Brief History (Pearseon). In 1998 he was the recipient of a Pollock-Krasner Foundation grant; he is a two time recipient of New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowships (2009 and 2017), and was awarded a Guggenheim Fellowship in 2018. Hamada lives and works in East Hampton, New York.

Erica Baum

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Artist’s Statement

My photographic work utilizes found language and imagery. As an undergraduate I studied Anthropology and I look at my source materials, books, blackboards, card catalogues, player piano rolls, sewing patterns etc. as potent artifacts that can yield poetic information reflecting the circulation and dissemination of information and material in our shared popular culture. I’m thinking about structures and systems and how a playful engagement can yield insights as well as generate new meanings.

Transposing the tradition of street photography, I navigate intuitively framing and partially decontextualizing my subject matter harnessing moments that suggest meanings beyond their original situations.

What interests me are the juxtapositions and sense of history derived from the words themselves even without knowing everything. I want to give you a sense of a particular environment but not in its entirety. The view is oblique and re-contextualized. In this close up immersive situation the viewer can retain a level of awareness, just enough to inform but also to allow a different visual and semantic experience to take hold. The source is familiar and recognizable but the experience is new. It is that tension between something that we recognize, that we routinely encounter and the fact that we can look at it in a different way that creates a strangeness, a difference in which exist multiple possibilities.

While respecting the constraints of a given subject, the page sequence of a book or the reference system of a library, the work suggests a visual meta-language, mixing history and humor to display the disparate, often unheard cacophony of voices present within cultural structures.

Reflecting intimate and direct encounters with familiar actions and objects – opening a card catalogue drawer, opening a book, folding a page – the viewer is reminded that meaningful visual surprise surrounds us if one pays attention.

Erica Baum is well known for her varied photographic series capturing text and image in found printed material, from paperback books to library indexes. She received her MFA from Yale University in 1994 and her BA in Anthropology from Barnard in 1984.

Recent museum exhibitions include Making Knowing: Craft in Art, 1950–2019, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Face à face, frac île‐de‐france, Villetaneuse, France; Anna Atkins Refracted: Contemporary Works, The New York Public Library, New York; The Swindle: Art Between Seeing and Believing, Albright‐Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo; Lever le voile, Frac île‐de‐france, Paris; The Arcades: Contemporary Art and Walter Benjamin, The Jewish Museum, New York; Photo-Poetics: An Anthology, Kunsthalle Berlin and Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum; and Reconstructions: Recent Photographs and Video from the Met Collection, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Recent solo and two‐person exhibitions include A METHOD OF A CLOAK, Square is the Chatter, Galerie Markus Lüttgen, Düsseldorf; A METHOD OF A CLOAK, Klemm’s, Berlin; A Long Dress, Bureau, New York; Naked Eye Nature Morte, Galerie Crevecoeur, Paris, France; AAa:Quien, Erica Baum & Libby Rothfeld, Bureau, New York; The Following Information, Bureau, New York; and Stanzas, Galerie Crevecoeur, Paris. Selected biennials include: AGORA 4th Athens Biennale, Athens, 2013 and the 30th Bienal de São Paulo: The Imminence of Poetics, São Paulo, Brazil, 2012.

Her work is held in the collections of the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York; Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum, New York; The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York; MAMCO, Geneva; Albright‐ Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo, New York; Centre National des Arts Plastiques, Paris; FRAC Ile de France, Paris; and Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven and others.