Stephanie Armbruster and Erika Stearly
January 15th - February 22nd, 2019
Stephanie Armbruster: Meridian (main gallery)
Erika Stearly: Dwell (2nd-floor gallery)
#artparty: Saturday, January 19th, 5-8pm
Free and open to the public.
Stephanie Armbruster: Meridian
Stephanie Armbruster: Meridian explores the interrelationships between memory and location. External environmental energies influence internal conditions, just as internal conditions impact perception of our surrounding environment. Stephanie Armbruster: Meridian intertwines past and present histories into the complex, blurred mass of shared perception.
With their atmospheric presence, Armbruster's luminous paintings in oil and hot wax seek balance between figure and ground, blurring the lines between landscape and gestural abstraction. Working primarily in encaustic, Armbruster's paintings are composed of dozens of layers of translucent wax, fused with a flame torch, and smoothed by hand.
Each of the paintings presented in this exhibition are inspired by specific locations or meridians. Acting as waypoints in the path of memory, Armbruster’s paintings recall the story and sentiment of each encounter, depicted through a lens of synesthesia. Each represents a simultaneous point of connection and departure along an unplanned course.
The transitory nature of memory speaks to the ephemeral nature of encaustic as a medium. Much like their inspiration, Armbruster’s paintings are densely-layered accumulations of structure and symbolism. Order tones beautifully with chaos. Stephanie Armbruster: Meridian attempts to create a frequency that allows the viewer to tune-in and access all that is shared in memory.
Armbruster was born in Cleveland, OH, in 1983. She moved to Pittsburgh in 2001 to attend Carnegie Mellon University, where she received a BFA in 2006. Her artwork has been exhibited nationally at institutions including the Chautauqua Institution, Mattress Factory Museum of Contemporary Art, Carnegie Museum of Art, Cornell University, Los Angeles Printmaking Society, James Gallery and others.
Erika Stearly: Dwell
Erika Stearly: Dwell invites viewers to experience the nostalgia of visiting their hometown. The exhibition includes a passage selected from Killing Yourself to Live by Chuck Klosterman to further connect the formal concerns of Stearly's paintings with the viewer's memories.
Convinced that contemporary realities are complex enough to sustain multiple approaches to painting, Stearly integrates representational image-making with abstraction’s emphasis on materiality and mark-making to depict the clutter of household objects. Named using the street addresses of the residences depicted, the imagery in her paintings balance an impulse to faithfully render the objects against the emphasis on the hand of the artist. The combination of abstraction and representation romanticizes these spaces in a way that invites the viewer to construct their own narrative of the scene.
A lifelong resident of Pennsylvania, Stearly is comfortable navigating both its urban centers and rural pockets. Evidence of how various regions of the commonwealth were shaped by geopolitics, the rise and fall of industries, and natural disasters can be found in a community’s architecture. Stearly makes paintings of the spaces where people live, which increasingly include large single family homes that have been awkwardly subdivided to create additional rental units for young people. Her paintings, which are both fictional and biographical, have been featured in dozens of juried and invitational exhibitions around the country in recent years, including recent exhibitions in Philadelphia and Los Angeles.
Stearly is the recipient of several artist grants, most recently through the Puffin Foundation and the Black Rock Arts Foundation for her work with Take a Painting, an interactive painting installation. Her studio practice has been supported through Fellowships and Residencies at Wilson College, Kutztown University, and Penn State University, where she taught undergraduate painting. Recent group exhibitions have included Bound Unbound IV at the University of South Dakota, The New Now through Inliquid in Philadelphia, and freshstART through the McCall Family Foundation in Los Angeles. She is a graduate of Kutztwon University, where she completed her BFA in 2009 and a graduate from Indiana University of Pennsylvania, where she completed her MFA in 2014.
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