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Photography, Mixed Media

Vignette: Melissa Hall


“Integrating my photography with encaustic processes blurs the line between reality and narrative.” — Melissa Hall


"Look Outward" by Melissa Hall, 24x36in, photography, encaustic, oil paint (2017), $820 |  BUY NOW

"Look Outward" by Melissa Hall, 24x36in, photography, encaustic, oil paint (2017), $820 | BUY NOW

Melissa Hall is “drawn to locations and objects that are patinaed, worn, and wear their age like a badge on their surface, displaying their history. These decaying spaces spark my imagination and allow me to tell stories of the lives that could have been lived between the walls.”

"The Weight" by Melissa Hall, 24x48in, photography, encaustic, oil paint (2017) $940 |  BUY NOW

"The Weight" by Melissa Hall, 24x48in, photography, encaustic, oil paint (2017) $940 | BUY NOW

We see female figures that are literally imprisoned within physical circumstances: a mermaid struggles inside of a ticket booth aquarium. The cubical is ludicrously small for her, but even if it were more spacious, it would remain confining. And another woman occupies an attic space, her body disappearing into a window, and even if we cannot see her face, we might, without too much difficulty, imagine a look of longing in her face. In any event she seems ready to depart; she clutches ropes tied to a brace of travel cases, her life further confined within even smaller spaces.

“My imagery evokes conceptual undercurrents from myths, twisted fairy tales, and simple aspects of everyday life. My work is built by combining photographs with translucent layers of encaustic medium, oil paint, and pastels. Integrating my photography with encaustic processes blurs the line between reality and narrative.”

In the work we see here, that layered effect is perhaps most obvious in “Stand,” an image in which the woman is not constrained by space. She stares out at a horizon filled with the ocean, typically a symbol of boundless freedom. Yet how is it that even in this instance, this figure also feels somehow limited? Hall plays with our expectations, crafting a tension and speaking to troubling issues of identity. 

Hall has a solo show, Aggressively Fragile, running June 13 – July 21, 2017 at the MS Rezny Gallery in Lexington, KY. There will be a Coffee & Artist Demo on July 8th, 11am-1pm, and an Artist’s Closing Reception July 21st, 5-8 pm, in conjunction with the LexArts Gallery Hop.

Hometown: Lexington, Kentucky
Education: BS Computer Science & Mathematics
Gallery Representation: MS Rezny (Lexington)
Website: http://www.melissathall.com
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/melissathallstudios/
Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/melissathall/

"Endure" by Melissa Hall, 21x36in, photography, encaustic, oil paint (2017) $820 |    BUY NOW

"Endure" by Melissa Hall, 21x36in, photography, encaustic, oil paint (2017) $820 | BUY NOW

"On Display" by Melissa Hall, 24x36in, photography, encaustic, oil paint (2017) $820 |  BUY NOW

"On Display" by Melissa Hall, 24x36in, photography, encaustic, oil paint (2017) $820 | BUY NOW

"Hurry Up and Wait" by Melissa Hall, 24x36in, photography, encaustic, oil paint (2017) $820 |  BUY NOW

"Hurry Up and Wait" by Melissa Hall, 24x36in, photography, encaustic, oil paint (2017) $820 | BUY NOW

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Ceramics

Feature: Tom Marsh Legacy


“By practicing a potentially usable art and by insisting on its usability, and the commonness and local peculiarity of his materials, he points it toward the older, finer, healthier sort of artistic success: that such excellent workmanship, such beauty and distinction, might again become ordinary.“ — Wendell Berry on Tom Marsh*


Artists, Ginny & Tom Marsh.

Artists, Ginny & Tom Marsh.

If past is indeed prologue, then perhaps we live in the present only by the leave of our ancestors; formative influences, and most especially our teachers. Tom Marsh was a teaching artist in the Greater Louisville area for more than 25 years, first at Silver Creek High School in his native Indiana during the 1960’s, and then as the founder of the Ceramics program at the University of Louisville’s Hite Institute for Art, where he taught until his death, in 1991.

It is also said, by those who loved and admired him the most, that he was demanding. Surely this is a requisite quality for any worthwhile mentor, and, from all accounts, Marsh set expectations as high for his own work as he did for anyone else, and the program he developed for U of L was unorthodox, moving beyond traditional studio parameters. Certainly experience has taught us that innovation often translates for some as ‘difficult’.

Marsh was raised by missionaries, and studied painting with Mary Spencer Nay at the University of Louisville. A missionary trip took him to Mashiko, Japan, where he ended up staying for several years, studying pottery with Sakuma Totaro (1900-1976), and learning various strands of Buddhism, most notably Rinzai. Once he returned to the U.S. he eventually resettled in Borden, Indiana, living his later years in adherence to ethical and spiritual practices born of his time in Japan, building an aesthetically spare house in the secluded woods that featured multi-functional space - the bed was raised on pulleys to make room for working.

Works by Marsh Pottery,   Install Image from UofL Faculty show (1984) . Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

Works by Marsh Pottery, Install Image from UofL Faculty show (1984) . Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

This holistic approach was indicative of what University of Louisville colleague and current faculty Jim Grubola calls the, “potter-philosopher” ideal that Marsh strived to embody. He brought it into his teaching, breaking out of the confines of the studio to instruct students in building outdoor kilns as a part of curriculum, a practice that brought many conflicts with both the Louisville Fire Department and University officials.

"  Approaching" by Marsh Pottery,   conjunction in situ (1992). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

"Approaching" by Marsh Pottery, conjunction in situ (1992). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

As for the work, Marsh’s ceramic pottery follows the Japanese aesthetic that finds beauty – “art,” in the strictly functional: large scale vessels for storage (because smaller pieces for daily use were commonly made from lacquer or wood), and tea pots. The full, earthen physicality might seem to contradict the western (mis) perception of delicacy as a defining characteristic of Japanese art; these are full, solid forms of visual and tactile weight. Their functionality never feels in question.

Another U of L associate, retired Print Faculty John Whitesell, describes how Marsh developed his techniques for the “expanded form jar,” in which the walls of the vessel are pushed to their limits and the outer surface begins to “crack”: “He would go beyond what you would imagine was possible… he would just keep working it, and working it.” The resulting complex, “fractured” surface texture became a trademark of Marsh’s work, a careful balance between structural integrity and creative aesthetic. However much the artist valued function, the rustic, earthy beauty of the work was always astonishing.

Whitesell also talks of “the anonymous potter,” which is a term that evolved when Marsh worked alongside his wife, Ginny Marsh. In the images of work shown here, from a 1984 sabbatical exhibit at U of L’s Schneider Galleries, all of the work is identified as simply Marsh Pottery, with no distinction given as to which Marsh created which piece. While there may be some who felt they could detect differences, Grubola, for one, could not be certain, because the nature of the vessels had gone in such an elemental direction: “Particularly towards the end,” says Grubola, “the work became more intuitive and less refined.”

"Mark" by Tom Marsh. Photo Courtesy of Hite Art Institute.

"Mark" by Tom Marsh. Photo Courtesy of Hite Art Institute.

Students came to U of L to study with Marsh specifically tolearn the Japanese-based techniques and life philosophy he expounded. Laura Ross, Wayne Ferguson, Sarah Frederick, Fong Choo, Pam Korte, Bran Hazelet, and Gwen Heffner are but a few notable potters for whom Marsh was a mentor, and many of them still live, work and teach in the area.

"Teapot" by Ginny and Tom Marsh

"Teapot" by Ginny and Tom Marsh

All of the concentration suggests that Marsh never did anything halfway. One of his teaching tools were sophisticated, multi-media presentations that he also took all around the U.S. at a time when such things were not common. “For someone so dedicated to a simple agrarian lifestyle,” remembers Whitesell, ”Tom was well-versed in technology, and had multiple projections fading in and out… synched to a pre-recorded soundtrack. It was very impressive.”

"These pots and cups and bowls are not busy calling attention to themselves as 'art objects.' Their preferred habitat is a kitchen, not a museum. They invite use. They are not just viewed. Viewing, by itself, will misunderstand them--just as, by itself, it
will misunderstand the food." — Wendell Berry

Examples of Marsh pottery are in permanent collections of museums worldwide, including the Museum of Modern Art in Kamajura, Japan.

Name: Tom Marsh (1934 -1991)
Hometown: Sellersburg, Indiana

The Marsh's 30 cubic foot cross draft salt kiln (c.1979). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

The Marsh's 30 cubic foot cross draft salt kiln (c.1979). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

"  Approaching Conjunction"   by Marsh Pottery,   stoneware   (1984). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

"Approaching Conjunction" by Marsh Pottery, stoneware (1984). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

"Vase with Brass Rings" by Marsh Pottery, 14in H, coarse stoneware   (1973). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

"Vase with Brass Rings" by Marsh Pottery, 14in H, coarse stoneware (1973). Photograph courtesy of the Hite Art Institute.

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2017 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

*From “Tom Marsh/Potter: Twenty Three Years of Clay”, published by University of Louisville, 1979.

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Fiber

Vignette: Kathleen Loomis


“My flags are somewhat the worse for wear.” Kathleen Loomis


"Fading" by Kathleen Loomis, 59x99in, fiber (2016) $8000 |  BUY NOW

"Fading" by Kathleen Loomis, 59x99in, fiber (2016) $8000 | BUY NOW

Political art can be a misnomer; on some level all of art is, by its very existence, ‘political’, and more overt statements are often best realized in simple terms. In her most recent work, Kathleen Loomis has been working with the American flag, appropriate both in that she is a fiber artist, and that there is arguably no symbol that carries more emotional and thematic weight than the Red, White, and Blue.

"Flagging" by Kathleen Loomis, 98x54in, fiber (2016) $7000  |  BUY NOW  

"Flagging" by Kathleen Loomis, 98x54in, fiber (2016) $7000  | BUY NOW 

“The flag is a stand-in for our country, so flags in distress convey feelings about the state of our democracy. Even beyond the disturbing recent elections, it seems that so many things in government and our legal system are going downhill. Maybe our nation and its democratic ideals aren’t as crisp and bright as they used to be; as a nation we are getting weary and have lost our mojo, so my flags are somewhat the worse for wear.”

Loomis’ statement may reveal a particular position, and the images are equally straightforward, yet they do not limit themselves by pointing to cause or solution. There are protocols for flying the flag that reinforce that it is also a vital tool for communication – flown upside down it is a symbol of distress to approaching forces, so co-opting it as a motif in visual art feels natural. “Kentucky Graveyard” and “Postage 3 Memorial Day” powerfully comment on the cost of freedom by echoing the flag-draped caskets of deceased military returning from foreign wars, while “More Equal Than Others” speaks to the inequity that has always been a struggle in American society. Loomis may have current events on her mind, but these themes are forever with us.

You can keep up with Loomis through a lively and informative blog on her website. Loomis joined Pyro Gallery in 2016, and is currently a part of the New Year, New Pyro Artists exhibit that runs through February 18, and will be participating in an Artist’s Gallery Talk there on Saturday, January 14, at 12:30pm.

"Fading" (detail)

"Fading" (detail)

Recent Exhibitions:
·      Indianapolis Museum of Art, Indianapolis, IN, Dialogues, 2016
·      Dairy Barn, Athens, OH, and on tour throughout the US, Quilt National ’15, ’11, ’09, and ’03 (Quilts Japan Prize, 2009)
·      Jasper Arts Center, Jasper, IN, Annual Juried Art Exhibits, 2001, 2004, 2006, 2011, 2015 (award of merit), 2011, Best in Show, 2015).

Hometown: Saginaw, Michigan
Education: BA in Journalism, Syracuse University; MSJ Northwestern University
Website: http://kathleenloomis.com

"Kentucky Graveyard (Iraq)" by Kathleen Loomis, 71x60in, fiber (2006) NFS

"Kentucky Graveyard (Iraq)" by Kathleen Loomis, 71x60in, fiber (2006) NFS

"Kentucky Graveyard (Iraq)" (detail)

"Kentucky Graveyard (Iraq)" (detail)

"Postage 3: Memorial Day" by Kathleen Loomis, 86x100in, fiber (2008) NFS

"Postage 3: Memorial Day" by Kathleen Loomis, 86x100in, fiber (2008) NFS

"Postage 3: Memorial Day" (detail)

"Postage 3: Memorial Day" (detail)

Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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Print Making, Drawing

Vignette: Rachel Singel

“Lily Leaves” by Rachel Singel, 12x18in, intaglio on mulberry paper (2016)

“Lily Leaves” by Rachel Singel, 12x18in, intaglio on mulberry paper (2016)

A photograph of Singel at work in her studio.

A photograph of Singel at work in her studio.

The line as an element in art is often taken for granted. The common layperson’s observation that “I can’t even draw a straight line,” betrays a common misunderstanding about how an artist approaches line. When an artist wants to draw a straight line, they pick up a ruler, but a line has so much more potential. Printmaker Rachel Singel thoughtfully explores the linear in her work: “Lines are the building block of my world. The printmaking process allows for a technical consideration of how these lines are distributed throughout the work, with the weight of each line relating directly to how much time it etches. Their physical qualities carry weight; they do not descend into the paper but protrude from the surface.” 

If that explanation sounds academic, it fairly reflects the intellectual aspect of the printmaking process as well as Singel’s position as Assistant Professor at University of Louisville’s Hite Art Institute, but her lines also describe recognizable forms in nature, and in Venetian Vortex, there is a discovery of the hallucinatory character that can be found in the natural world, and line works in concert with scant patches of color to move into the realm of the abstract.

“Venetian Vortex” by Rachel Singel, 56x72in, intaglio on cotton paper (2013)

“Venetian Vortex” by Rachel Singel, 56x72in, intaglio on cotton paper (2013)

“Lines develop into curves, from curves to semi-circles, and from semi-circles to the full circle. This stylistic tendency comes from my interest in openings in nature—those places around which nature’s complex forms develop. Close studies of natural objects reveal holes in their surfaces. The space is a source of weight—a fulcrum point that seizes my attention by giving the illusion of an even deeper space, seeming to recede to infinity. The lines radiate out from these seeming voids—the starting points for infinite variation within the work.”

Singel was one of the organizers of the October 2016 Mid America Print Conference hosted by Indiana University Southeast and The University of Louisville. Her work was featured in an exhibit with Susan Moffett, Marilyn Whitesell, Mary Lou Hess, Susanna Crum, and Susan Harrison.

Singel was also selected to participate in the Mid-America Print Council Members Juried Exhibition at the Carnegie Center for Art and History, October 2016.

Singel currently is co-curating a group exhibition at Asheville Bookworks. She has exhibited internationally in Venice, China, Korea, Chile, Japan, Slovenia, Bulgaria, and the United Arab Emirates, and her work is included in 2016 Literary Innovation: A Juried National Exhibition Inspired by William Faulkner and Ernest Hemingway at the Catapult Gallery in Cape Girardeau, MO, through November 27, 2016, and in Points of Departure: An Exhibition without Borders, at the John Michael Kohler Arts Center on Sheboygan, WI through January 15, 2017.

“Seed Pods” by Rachel Singel, 18x20in, intaglio on mulberry paper (2015)

“Seed Pods” by Rachel Singel, 18x20in, intaglio on mulberry paper (2015)

In Louisville, you can next view Singel’s work in The Art and Architecture of the Jewish Ghetto in Venice, Italy, The Jewish Community Center, Louisville KY, January 15-February 21, 2017. 

Permanent Collections (selected)

Tipoteca Italiana Archives, Cornuda, IT
Jewish Museum of Venice, Venice, IT
Baylor University Libraries, Waco, TX
Avery Architecture and Fine Arts Library, Columbia University, New York, NY
University of Denver Special Collections & Archives, Denver, CO
DePaul University Special Collections & Archives, Chicago, IL
Stanford University Special Collections & University Archives, Stanford, CA
Artist Books Collection, University of Louisville, Louisville, KY
SGCI Archives, Pacific NW College of Art and Portland State University, OR
John C. Hodges Library Special Collections. University of Tennessee, Knoxville, TN
Guanlan International Print Biennial, Shenzhen, China
Permanent Collection Christchurch Polytechnic Institute of Technology, Christchurch, New Zealand
Proyecto´ace Print Collection, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Venice Printmaking Studio Print Collection, Venice, IT
Indiana University Print Collection, Bloomington, IN
University of New Mexico Print Collection, Albuquerque, NM
Pyramid Atlantic Art Center Print Collection, Silver Springs, MD

Age: 29
Hometown: Louisville, Kentucky
Education: MFA, University of Iowa, 2013 BA, University of Virginia, 2009
Website: http://www.rachelsingel.com

“Exploding Flower” by Rachel Singel, 16x20in, intaglio on handmade cotton paper (2015)

“Exploding Flower” by Rachel Singel, 16x20in, intaglio on handmade cotton paper (2015)

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Written by Keith Waits. Entire contents copyright © 2016 Louisville Visual Art. All rights reserved.

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