Saturday, October 26, 2013

Fall Featured Artist: Carly Drew

Three times per year The Kiernan Gallery presents a solo exhibition of a non-photographic artist in conjunction with a photographic group show. Our Fall Featured Artist is Carly Drew. Inherited Land is her first post-graduate solo exhibition.

Carly Drew at the opening reception

What was the evolution of this style of layered painting and line work? How did you begin your artistic career?

I've always loved drawing and especially the deconstruction that comes from studying forms through line. My biggest breakthrough was in my second year of college when I had a drawing professor that showed us the potential of watercolor and a variety of mixed media, it opened up a whole new world of possibilities that I've been exploring ever since.

My artistic career began when I was little with my Dad teaching me some basics of drawing, from there I would spend anytime stuck inside drawing pretty much anything and everything. My grandfather also owned a printing press and he would send us bound sketchbooks made from leftover reams of paper, I would literally go through a big box of paper in a few months. From there I just kept practicing until high school when I was able to attend the local Technical Colleges art program since my school had none, then I did a stint at Temple in Philadelphia but quickly realized that the city really stifled my creativity. I went back to Greenville Tech and after finishing that program I completed a four-year degree with a BFA and a BA in art history. The past two years I was pursuing my MFA at Clemson, where my work really started to come together conceptually and also grew drastically in size.  

Queen Anne's Lace 
watercolor, graphite, acrylic, rice paper
15" x 22"

Tell us a bit about the history of these pieces; are these particular places that you are referencing? What is your connection to the land as subject?

Currently all of my work references the area in western Pennsylvania where my family in from, specifically my grandparents farm. The inspiration for a lot of the work actually came from a rather dark place - after my grandmother passed away there was pretty much a giant family dissolution over the land and mineral rights. For a while I was emotionally numb, it was something unexpected and uprooted a lot of relationships, but ultimately it opened up my perspective about a place I always considered a home. It quickly went from a family farm to the epicenter of a lot of current issues in land and resource use, so my connection really evolved out of something deep and incredibly personal.

Well Pond
watercolor, graphite, acrylic, pastel
55" x 55" 

Who are your artistic influences? Are there any particular artists working in watercolor or any other medium that have influenced this work?

Some of my artistic influences are Andrew Wyeth, the Hudson River School of painters and more contemporary artists like Mary Iverson and Walton Ford. I admire Wyeth's resilience in going against the grain and making work about where he was from and the places lived, he also did a phenomenal job at capturing some of the emotion of being tied to the land. I also realize that through making work about the American landscape I immediately reference the Hudson River School, there's really no way around them if you make work in this vein. For me the HRS are particularly interesting because of the identity and morality they instilled into the wilderness, in a way they really made it monumental through the use of its sublime aspects. Mary Iverson's use of shipping data overlaid onto the landscape is really inspiring in that she's bringing together different languages of the land to create a dialogue about the effects of the HRS's grand American vision and contemporary capitalism. Walton Ford has always been a personal icon, he knows how to structure visual narratives like nobody's business and effectively uses gouache and watercolor so that it gives a real punch.

Contested Grounds
watercolor, graphite, pastel
55" x 55"

Do you preliminary sketches define your artwork or does the natural fluidity of the medium dictate how the painting develops?

I always do a lot of sketches! For me sketching is really a way to get to know your subject's characteristics and ultimately gives me a little more freedom when to take liberty with how the form is situated in space. I also do a lot of color and media tests, color is something I struggle with so the more I can play with it the more confident I feel when working on a piece.

How do you keep yourself interested or fresh in a series of paintings that take months to complete?

I work on anywhere from 5-10 pieces at once, that way I always have pieces in different states of finish with different problems to solve.  

Old Tom Turkey
watercolor, graphite, acrylic, prismacolor
36" x 36"

Where do you see your work fitting into contemporary art world?

I see my work fitting into the art world in that it’s about the state of the contemporary land politics, wildlife management and resource use in rural America. Most people have a skewed or detached perspective of rural life and don't get to experience the harsh realities of nature on a daily basis through things like farming, hunting or just making a living. I feel like this lack of understanding is the starting place for my work and gives a voice to somewhere that often has none in contemporary art and culture. My ultimate hope is that it will raise awareness about some of these issues being faced in these areas.

If you could choose to paint only one subject for the rest of your life, what would you paint and why?

For me it'd simply be the place I live. There's something about building knowledge of a place through experiencing it on a daily basis and creating a history that's really fascinating to me.  

Manifest Destiny & Christmas Tree Farms
watercolor, graphite, acrylic, prismacolor
30" x 30" (each panel)

Inherited Land closes October 26, 2013. To view the exhibition online visit

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Botanicals Winners: Laura Williams

Juror’s Choice winner Laura Williams is a woman of many talents. She holds a B.F.A in painting from the University of Vermont, and has worked as a gourmet cookie decorator, a diorama and prop builder, and as a sculptor for a costume company where she made “hats for elephants, belt buckles for lion tamers, and many other incredibly silly things.” Now working as a part-time graphic designer for Algonquin Books, as well as an illustrator, and fabric designer; Williams incorporates her illustrations, photography, and graphic design work into her fabric patterns. “Photography has been there since the beginning. It is a huge influence. It is an essential part of the foundation of my visual language, as much as painting is.” Though her photography, painting, and graphic design aesthetics are each different, Williams’ ideas all come from the same place, “A mark looks different in graphite, paint, or pixels, or light, but the making of the mark comes from the same emotional content.”
Juror's Choice: N 35º 55’ 4”/W79º 3’ 46

Williams’ winning image, N 35º 55’ 4”/W79º 3’ 46 is part of a new series that began as a means of investigating natural objects and their shape and gesture and how they might be incorporated into her patterns. She quickly realized that the photographs worked best on their own. Though the images appear to have been photographed underwater, in reality they are made up of different layers of objects and glass. Williams’ interest lies in what she calls “creative accidents” and the meaning that can come out of a seemingly random situation.

Though she identifies herself as an artist, Williams does not worry about where she might fit in with the rest of the art world.
I know I am a visual artist who makes a living communicating and connecting with other human beings using visual images. I would hope that I am able to be articulate enough to be a part of a global creative conversation and to be able to collaborate with other artists across cultural boundaries. I believe that art is a place where we can connect to each other and share what we have in common and also what makes us different.
Pattern Design
From making hats for elephants and now wearing many hats herself, Williams’ artistic career has made her incredible versatile and successful. “Success might be having the ability to banish fear […] from the creative process. I think success for me is about communicating with other people. It is about successfully transferring emotional energy through a visual image and about the impact that energy has on another person.”
Botanicals is on view through October 26, 2013.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Botanicals Winners: Joshua White

Director’s Choice winner Joshua White planned to be scientist. But after receiving a camera as a Christmas gift while a college student studying microbiology, he fell in love with the photographic process and its different tools. White dramatically revised his career plans, transferring to Northern Kentucky University and pursuing a degree in photography. What surprised him the most at his new school was its emphasis on studying various artistic methods. “I was not aware that I would have to take drawing, painting, ceramics, etc., and at first resisted the idea. My education there . . . helped me understand the importance of being a well-rounded artist.”

Director's Choice 0281

His winning image 0281 is part of the series A Photographic Survey of the American Yard. The images are made with an iPhone, with all manipulation occurring in-phone. “There are really amazing things happening with these cameras we all have in our pockets, but it is still a sort of fringe technology.” His choice of camera for this project has led to many conversations where White has had to defend his work simply because it was made with a camera phone. He rejects the notion that a tool defines the quality of art, and believes that his role as an artist is to question himself and the world around him using whatever tools make sense.


While he has fully embraced photography, White hasn’t completely abandoned his scientific roots. A Photographic Survey of the American Yard is a scientific exploration of everyday plant and insect life around his home in Boone, NC. He considers the body of work expansive, having already amassed over 400 final images and with more specimens waiting to be photographed. Because his subject matter is so small, he prints each image to only four inches square.


White draws inspiration from his daughter, who teaches him to “remember what it was like to discover everything for the first time.” Perhaps encouraged by her curiosity and his own childhood adventures, White loves the idea of a playful exhibition which would encourage visitors to get down on the floor as if they were discovering these specimens themselves. When thinking about how he might ideally design an exhibition of this work, White stated:

I love creating situations where viewers have to interact, so the exhibition I have designed would transform the gallery into a sort of intermediary space, somewhere between backyard and traditional viewing environment. The images will be displayed on a small shelf about 1 foot off the ground, all around the perimeter of the gallery, unframed and printed 4” square. The floor of the gallery will be covered in sod and the viewer asked to remove their shoes.
These photographs reference the illustrations of antique scientific texts. “There is a growing realization that science and art are not that different at all, and that we need both working in concert to understand our world.” White’s strong connection to science adds him to the growing list of artists who are enmeshing their work and ideas with explicitly scientific aims. “I think I am one of a contemporary breed of artists who use as many forms of knowledge as possible to inform my practice, and to explore ideas that have moorings in many different facets of culture.”


Botanicals is on view through October 26, 2013. To view more work from the exhibition visit

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Announcement: New Call for Work!

The Alternative Approach
Deadline: December 20, 2013
Exhibition: February 5 – March 1, 2014
Opening Reception: February 7

©Christopher James

Alternative process photography today is a blend of contemporary ideas and historical techniques. Many photographers have rediscovered some of the forgotten early processes, bringing a unique style to present-day image making. Incorporating these processes into their work involves both skilled craftsmanship and a creative blending of new and old. For our third annual alternative process exhibition, The Alternative Approach, The Kiernan Gallery seeks photographers who use unconventional, historic photographic techniques in their work.
For this exhibition, juror Christopher James will select up to 25 images for display in the main gallery, and up to an additional 35 to be included in the online gallery. All images will be reproduced in an exhibition catalogue available for purchase. A Juror’s Choice and Director’s Choice will also be announced.

About the Juror
Christopher James is an internationally known artist and photographer whose photographs, paintings, and alternative process images have been exhibited in galleries and museums in this country and abroad. His work has been published and shown extensively, including exhibitions in The Museum of Modern Art, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, The George Eastman House, and the Philadelphia Museum of Art. The first two editions of his book, The Book of Alternative Photographic Processes (Delmar Cengage -Albany, NY), have received international critical acclaim and are universally recognized by artists, curators, historians, and educators as the definitive texts in the genre of alternative process photography and photographically integrated media and culture. A significantly expanded 850 page, 600 image, 3rd edition will be published in 2013. Christopher, after 13 years at Harvard University, is presently University Professor, and Director of the MFA in Photography program at The College of Art and Design - Lesley University. He is also a painter, graphic designer, and a professional scuba diver.

For more information and to see submission guidelines visit

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Christy Karpinski

The gallery is pleased to have Christy Karpinski as juror for our upcoming exhibition, Voyages. Christy is the founder and publisher of F-Stop Magazine as well as an active photographer and educator.
As the founder of F-Stop Magazine, you see a lot of work. How does this color your experience as a juror? How does it affect your own work?
I think because of the way F-Stop is set up, with a group exhibition in each issue, it is somewhat similar in ways to being a juror for a group exhibition - choosing individual images to be a part of a group exhibition that speaks to the theme for the show.
F-Stop Magazine is one of the most influential photography publications around. What was the motivation for starting the online publication?
I was motivated to start F-Stop by my own desire to see more fine art photography online. I started the magazine back in the fall of 2003. Most of the photography magazines online at the time were more focused on commercial work or equipment and how to type content and there were not a lot of fine art photographers with websites that were easy to find. I wanted to see fine art photography projects and share work I liked with people. 

How have your experiences as an educator and publisher influenced you as an artist? 
I think primarily I would say I have come to understand better the importance of being able to talk about my work. I still believe that photography is visual communication and it should be able to communicate on its own, but it can also be rather vague at times. I don't think work always needs to talked about, but I think it broadens your audience and helps you clarify ideas etc.
You are a professor at Columbia College Chicago and Evanston Arts Center. How does teaching inspire your work and vice versa? 
Teaching and making my own work at the same time continually inspires me to try to look at things with fresh eyes and to stay open to possibilities.

The idea of Voyage has many meanings and will attract many different kinds of work. How do you think you will approach this topic?
I think it is a great theme, very open to interpretation. I usually like to hold the theme in my mind as I look at work and think about how the images speak to that theme and see how they relate to each other as an overall group. I don't have a preconceived idea of what "Voyage" should look like at all so I am excited to see the work that is submitted and let it as a whole guide me. 
Finally, we ask this of all our artists, what does success in art mean to you? 
To me success in art means finding an audience for the work, connecting to people through the work and communicating ideas through the work. There is nothing I love more than when someone relates to a photograph or a project of mine, and it's even more awesome when they get out of it something similar to what it is about for me. 

The deadline to submit to Voyages is October 24. Visit for more information.

Tuesday, October 1, 2013

Announcement: New Call for Work!

Winter Featured Artist
Deadline: November 24
Exhibition: January 2 – February 1
Opening Reception: January 3

Represented across all media, the genre of landscape is as varied as the earth itself. The Kiernan Gallery is pleased to announce its non-photographic call for portfolio submissions to select a featured artist. The Gallery seeks work in 2D media. Photography is not eligible. From mountains to coastlines, desert to tundra, our relationship with the land is complex and personal. The selected work will be shown in conjunction with our upcoming photography show, Mainland.
That artist will have their work occupy the entirety of a room in the Main Gallery. The featured artist will receive:
-       A one-month solo show.
-       A feature on The Kiernan Gallery’s blog and website.
-       An electronic show card designed and distributed by The Kiernan Gallery.
Submission Guidelines:
-       Submit a body of 8-10 pieces
-       Submit a written statement about the work (no more than a page).
-       Artists should be prepared to ship or deliver their work (ready to hang) to the gallery if selected.
We cannot guarantee an entire body of work will fit into the exhibition space. In such cases, Director and artist will collaborate to decide which pieces will be displayed.

Visit for more information and to submit your work.