Solo Exhibit: Life is Fragile – Handle with Care

I dropped off the blogosphere during the last year and a half, but I’m back, and hopefully with more regular posts. After having been awarded a solo exhibit at the Art League Gallery in Alexandria, VA for April 2022, I spent all my spare time and energy since Autumn 2020 on creating works of art. Some of the pieces were large, mixed media paintings with sculptural elements (the largest measuring 40×48 inches) and others were delicately painted chicken and duck eggshells, of which I spent a minimum of 5 hours on each painting. The way I installed the exhibit turned out to be installation art in itself. The following is a documentation of my artist statement, a few samples of my work, and how I installed it in the gallery. In the coming weeks I will share more detailed accounts of my artistic process and inspiration for individual pieces.

Sea of Plastic, 36×48 inches

The beauty and fragility of life on Earth is the inspiration for this series of paintings and assemblages. In Genesis God gave man a commandment, “Be fruitful, multiply and subdue the Earth.” “Subdue” in this context means to “bring under control”, but humanity has gone farther than bringing nature under control and, like a tyrant king, through greed and sloth, is destroying the very ecosystem in which he/she lives. In this exhibit I explore the ways in which human beings are connected to ecology: how we pollute the earth, destroy it, and how this destruction ultimately affects us. This series highlights the ugliness of that destruction juxtaposed with the beauty and fragility of the natural world.  

I have incorporated found objects, which would have otherwise been thrown away, into the large acrylics on canvas and board. Sometimes, in order to incorporate the objects into the piece, I sculpted the foreground out of wire and papier mâché and covered this in gesso and paint to make a transition between the 2- and 3-Dimensional portions of the artwork. Juxtaposed with these large, foreboding paintings are tiny, delicate eggshells painted with living creatures. There are a handful of eggshells that are intentionally broken, representing extinct or endangered life. In the paintings as well as on the eggshells you will find humans, there to represent our presence in the environment and the fragility of human life. Humans are stewards of creation, and the choices that we make not only affect the non-sentient life around us, but other human lives and the lives of the next generation as well. This series focuses on the destruction that greed and carelessness have on the ecosystem, but there are layers of meaning hidden within this tiny cosmos of paintings, waiting to be uncovered.

Above is a sampling of how I chose to exhibit the works. Photography, unfortunately, fails to exhibit how 3-Dimensional the artwork actually is. The works on canvas and board were hung traditionally, while at least half the number of eggshells were hung from wires strung across the ceiling. The centerpiece of one arrangement of coral reef life was a sculpture of bleached coral made from papier mâché, gesso and eggshells. The rest of the eggshells I displayed on egg stands set on pedestals.

These are two of the arrangements that pull my artist statement together, which is that human life is as dependent upon and as fragile as the rest of the environment. The oysters in the sculpture/painting on the left were sculpted with wire, papier mâché, and gesso. This work represents the toxins that can enter food sources through improper water treatment, crop fertilization, or manure runoff. The egg carton on the right is symbolic of the safety and protection of the mother’s womb, but of which all sorts of toxins and threats can penetrate. I will write more about these works in the future.

If you wish to see more of these works, check out my portfolio page: https://amybrowningart.com/portfolio-2/life-is-fragile-handle-with-care/

In the Studio with Amy

This blog is to give you a little glimpse into my studio. I both paint and teach drawing and painting, so I will be sharing anything from the meanings behind selections of my work; tips and techniques that artists can use; projects for your children to do at home; and an occasional write up about an art exhibit you can visit. I hope many people who enjoy art can find something of value in my posts.