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Artist & project info

Is Between: October 28, 2011 through November 28, 2011, a group exhibition at The Active Space featuring Liz Ainslie and Sarah McDougald Kohn. Curated by Robin Grearson.

Is Between examines the relationships in the work of artists Liz Ainslie and Sarah McDougald Kohn. Ainslie’s painted objects are ambiguous shapes that move in and out of contexts; in their form and volume the shapes hint at, but are not quite, familiar. McDougald Kohn’s sculptures examine our relationship with everyday objects, and the ways we determine and understand the utility of an object. Each artist creates work on a still-life scale that allows a viewer to relate the shapes and sculptures to familiar household objects. However, although the viewer may naturally relate all of the works to figurative and familiar contexts, the work is ultimately abstract. Is Between allows viewers to consider the shifting perceptions of the forms rendered, as well as the dialog between the two artists’ work.

Artist Statement, Liz Ainslie
Specificity is crucial when making abstract work. In trying to find a different way to paint shapes, I decided to arrive at them from the inside out, without any drawing or outline. They came to be indirect extractions of landscapes or objects: It’s not like looking at a hillside and then cutting a chunk out of the earth, but rather looking at a picture of a landscape and cutting a slice that includes the sky, part of the hill and a shadow. I want my subjects to be ambiguous enough so that the references to items and landscape are not illustrations, but proxies that can move in and out of contexts.

I often walk around taking snapshots looking for moments when colors and materials clash, and result in perceptual shifts. I want to hold onto the moment when my senses somehow deceive me. When I paint, I create systems detached from my normal experience in order to reference these moments. I begin a painting knowing the scale of the shapes I want to include, and the color for the under-painting that I have mixed in preparation. Once I’ve applied the under- painting, I begin mixing new colors. I will begin to create shapes with the first or second color I mix. When a shape emerges from this color, I blend more colors and resolve the remaining negative space. I look for colors that vibrate, obscure and diffuse my creation of an illusion of

space. Ultimately, I may end up scraping away the first color that I put down. I do not let the shapes extend much beyond the edges of the panel, and there is always a foreground and background. None of the illusionistic elements are drawn ahead of time—everything emerges by the action of my hand, which works within a certain range of motion.

Abstract painting is highly conceptual—serving as a translation into a physical, perceptual, and imagined language. Working within a set of parameters provides a specificity that allows me to be intuitive within this language.

More info/images: Liz Ainslie

Artist Statement, Sarah McDougald Kohn

I strive to elicit a sense of fictional utility in my work.
I use materials that are simple to work with, are versatile, and easy to manipulate.
I believe in lines and I believe in the mark of the hand.
I use drawing to figure out sculpture and sculpture to figure out drawing.
I believe in the satisfaction that comes from making something from scratch.
A single gesture, repeated many times, can be very powerful – both in metaphor and material.
I think a lot of art is bad, mostly because it’s boring.
I am fascinated by the moment when material transitions to object, and from object to art object, and I question where the line distinguishing one from the other is drawn.
Identity politics, interesting as they may seem to all of us individually, do not make for an interesting subject matter.
What makes art interesting is its ability to exist outside of the confines of language.

More info/images: Sarah McDougald Kohn



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