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Fever Dreams Artist Talk: Emeline Agnew, Jesse Lee Alkire, Ellery von Dassow

Thursday, May 30, 2019 - 1:00pm
Fine Arts Building 124 - Western Gallery


Emeline Agnew

When caught in objectivity, figures are relegated to a mundane limbo. Not alive enough to be dead, they appear cold and static, taking up a liminal position akin to the forever floating Ophelia. Their everyday objects and gestures occupy a suspended landscape of displaced anxieties, collapsed time, and ugly wallpaper. In my paintings, these subjects are either viewed vicariously or warped to the point of unrecognition. The milky consistency of paint adds to an overarching sense of flatness, rendering figures stiffly inaccessible despite their large stature.

Jesse Lee Alkire

In the central canvas of “Butterfly Chanting,” a warrior is seated on a unicorn while below her are seated twin fairies. On the left canvas, a male angel is laughing while on the right a Madonna figure is holding her baby. Ambiguous in narrative, “Chanting” appropriates the tropes of religious iconography, the triptych configuration suggesting an altarpiece. In actuality “Chanting” is a group portrait of some of my closest friends, a community in which we have witnessed each other’s triumphs, struggles, and transformations. Historically, portraiture has been a mode of portraying the rich and the powerful. I chose to eschew this tradition and its expectations of monumentality and grandeur by emphasizing a personal, sentimental experience.   My imagery is meant to empower, humor, and canonize friends in my life who I respect and admire.

Ellery von Dassow

I use the formal and narrative aspects of drawing and digital media to present moments in which violence and confusion prevail, and adverse crowds collide. The participants of each scene are abstracted and anonymous, with stony uniforms and bodies reminiscent of action figures or statuettes. Lacking the emotional substrates of faces, they are petrified as slabs, metallic blocks, and weathered forms defined by deformity and warpage.