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Dramatic Chromatic: Claire Ashley, Color&Color, Kim Eichler-Messmer, Jessica Labatte and Joe Bussell

May 18, 2012 - July 7, 2012

Click here to download a pdf document of the press-release.

Dramatic Chromatic is the fifth exhibition at Plug Projects, that brings together undeniably color-centric work of five artists. A wide range of materials and approaches are employed: photography, fibers, painting, sculpture and print media, that together contribute to a demanding and vivid visual experience. Over the span of history we observe color hierarchies falling in and out of vogue both in art and culture as theories of its origins and mechanics evolve. The twentieth century developments in the scientific understanding of the color phenomena allowed artists to focus on its material qualities and roles in image structure, emotional and psychological responses, and design. Further, the acknowledged connection between art and consumer culture generated a shift toward an artificial, saturated palette that has been influential on much of contemporary art. The artists in Dramatic Chromatic have found fresh ways to employ color both intuitively and strategically; resulting in physical, yet culturally framed phenomena that is still rich in possibilities for conveying meaning and creating a deeply satisfying visual experience.

About the artists

Claire Ashley works with color on the surfaces of inflatable sculptures. The inflatables take on the basic form and shape of bags, rectangles or unfolding squares that are presented in interior and exterior spaces. When encountering Ashley’s work, her saccharine palette on these soft shapes creates a satisfying tension between its artificiality and natural contours. The scale of her forms comments on the body’s relationship to architecture and imply a performative element as they breath, adjust, and settle. Societal forces might cram color into the form of easy commodities and collectables, but Ashley’s work pushes against this. Claire Ashley is from Edinburgh, Scotland and has lived and worked in Chicago for almost twenty years. She received a Bachelor of Fine Arts from Gray’s School of Art, Aberdeen, Scotland in 1993, and a Masters of Fine Arts in 1995, from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Her work has been shown in the U.S. and Scotland at venues including the MCA-Chicago, The Hyde Park Art Center, Devening Projects, the House of an Art Lover-Glasgow, and the Highland Institute for Contemporary Art in Inverness. She currently teaches at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in the Department of Contemporary Practices and Department of Painting and Drawing.http://www.claireashley.com/

Color&Color is a color-centric artist publication that is co-curated and co-edited by Amanda Curreri and Erik Scollon. Color&Color began in 2009, and has produced four issues in both digital and physical formats and is guided by the duality of two thematic colors per issue. This publication intends to be “a mobile venue” which grants viewers “access to new spatial-temporal configurations for the work.” Each issue invites artists to produce new works that address color themes revolving around clever
curatorial frameworks. For the fourth issue C&C will feature Elijah Burgher’s desire-based drawings, address the condition of colorblindness, and examine the “Swedish Red & Green Manifesto that mixes the red of socialism and anarchy with the green of environmentalism.” Plug is thrilled to be debuting their newest issue, C&C#3: Red&Green. http://colorandcolor.blogspot.com/

For this exhibition, Kim Eichler-Messmer is debuting an Octodecagon color wheel quilt. Measuring eighty inches in diameter and comprised of 144 hand-dyed cotton sections created from the combination of only six dyes, this piece pushes the boundaries and expectations of the quilt genre. Presenting a systematic understanding of color theory, this work pays homage to its creation and Eichler-Messmer’s masterful understanding of all the variables in the dying process. It builds parallels between the emotional resonance of the color spectrum and the comforting function of this object. Kim received her BFA in Studio Arts from Iowa State University and her MFA from University of Kansas in 2007. She was a resident at Arrowmont Center for Arts and Crafts and has exhibited her work in numerous venues including the John Michael Kohler Arts Center, Columbus Art Museum, and Wonderfair in Lawrence, Kansas. Currently, she serves as assistant professor in the Fibers department at the Kansas City Art Institute.http://eichlermessmer.com/

Jessica Labatte invokes the viewers’ capacity for color by staging playful images that invert our sense of space. She uses a large format camera to capture collaged constructions that manipulate our perceptions and present a sense of mystery through abstract shapes and surface planes. Her formal compositions embody a saturated, material quality that reference trompe l’oiel still-lives and expands the relationship between the viewer and picture plane. These works ask us to reconcile the digital tendencies of photography and realize the potential that is still accessible in the medium’s tradition. Jessica Labatte received her MFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago in 2009. Recently, she has been featured in exhibitions that include Jessica Labatte, Golden Gallery (NY), 12×12: Jessica Labatte, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago and Always the Young Strangers, Higher Pictures (NY). In the coming year, she will present a solo exhibition at the Chicago Cultural Center. http://jessicalabatte.com/

Joe Bussell preserves the remnants of the painting process by fashioning castoff hunks of hardened acrylic pigments into playful sculptures that echo the structures in his paintings. Sharing structural similarities with biological forms, the two-dimensional works present abstract, lyrical shapes that float in the white space of the paper, creating delicate and seemingly effortless moments of material beauty. The compositions are conceived with a thorough understanding of spatial and color relationships that rely on his intuition and emotional senses. Bussell received his BFA from University of Kansas in 1979, and completed MFAs in Ceramics and Painting from Washington University in 1994. His work is collected nationally and has been featured in numerous exhibitions at venues including the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art, Galleria Monty e Company in Rome, Kansas City Artists Coalition and the Marji Gallery in Santa Fe. He was the juror’s pick in the publication New American Paintings and received first place at the KCAC River Market Regional Exhibition in 2010 . He currently resides and maintains an active studio practice in Kansas CIty, Kansas.http://joebussell.com/


Plug Projects
1613 Genessee St.
Kansas City, MO 64102 United States
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(646) 535-PLUG