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JenClare Gawaran & Nelson Smith

JenClare Gawaran
Nelson Smith 
Reception: September 15, 2011  5-8 PM
August 25 – September 28, 2011

Buttercups - JenClare Gawaran

Originally from the Metro Detroit area, JenClare Gawaran has earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts from Michigan State University in art education. After teaching elementary and junior high school art classes she received her Michigan Provisional Teaching Certificate and returned home from East Lansing to start graduate studies at Wayne State University. During her time at WSU, she has exhibited in numerous local and national shows, including the Los Angeles Printmaking Society: 20th Annual National Exhibition and the Pacific States Biennial in Hawaii. In 2008, Gawaran was chosen to contribute to the national graduate printmaking portfolio the Salt City Dozen. She has also shown work internationally at Graphica Creativa ’09 in Finland and the Qijigang International Prints Invitation in China, where her work is in the permanent collection of the Guangdong Museum of Art. She completed her Master of Fine Arts in printmaking in 2009. Since completing graduate school, she has exhibited work at the Woman Made Gallery in Chicago and the Minnesota Center for Book Art in Minneapolis. Recently, she co-curated Regionalism: New work by North American Printmakers at the Downtown Initiative for the Arts in Eugene, Oregon. Currently, Gawaran teaches at Wayne State University and Henry Ford Community College. She also is a president and co-director of Whitdel Arts Gallery in Detroit.
Artist Statement 
The pursuit to understand my cultural identity is perpetual. The more I learn about my place between Western and Eastern cultures, the more questions I continue to search answers for. As a Filipino-American born and raised in the Midwest, my work is the result of my research to understand how these cultures have shaped the person I am today. In recent years, my work has focused on general stereotypes and expectations of me: as an Asian, a Filipina, an American and a female. I explore how I either conform to or defy these ideas. In effort to confront these stereotypes and expectations, my work resulted in imagery that was satirical and ironic.

My search for cultural identity remains a constant in my work, but these particular pieces introduce several influences which are more specific to this current stage in my life. I’ve focused very much on my current and past relationships. Choices I’ve made, whether of my own will or molded from expectations of others have impacted these relationships. In turn, they have affected who I am now. It is not my intention to dwell on these choices, since they are said and done, and now I am bound by them. I feel creating these pieces are a way to both mourn my past relationships and celebrate new ones.

Culture and relationships, though dominant ideas in my work, are not the only influences here. Various little infatuations often infiltrate my thoughts: language and communication, letter-forms and typography, even vague childhood memories of an endless array of Merry Melodies. Naturally, all these manage to surface into my imagery. I welcome these additions to my work, as they represent different facets of my character.

Irrational Conversation Remnant - Nelson Smith
Nelson Smith has received numerous awards for his work as a painter, performance and sound artist. He has been awarded four state Michigan Council for the Arts Individual Artist Grants, the national Art Matters grant, several artist residencies including Ballinglen Arts Foundation (Ireland), Oregon College of Art and Craft, Harvestworks (New York) and Atlantic Center for the Arts (Florida), and many other honors and commissions. His work is included in many significant public and private collections including the Museum of Modern Art’s Artist Book Archive and the Detroit Institute of Arts.

Smith’s painting is known for schematic languages integrated with representational object relationships. In recent years his painting has investigated, through his schematics, the expressive nature of landscape, remix process in relation to landscape traditions, and alternative approaches to portraiture.

Composed and performed for his own experimental theater productions, his sound designs and scores have also been commissioned for the films and performance works of Sue Carman-Vian, among others. His theatrical and installation works have been presented in a variety of theater and performance spaces in Detroit, New York, and Cleveland.

He earned his MFA in painting from Cranbrook Academy of Art, BA from the College of Wooster, and studies in New York with artist Agnes Denes. He teaches painting and drawing at Kansas State University.
Artist Statement
I paint schematic languages developed from research of individual histories, research, or landforms. A vocabulary of objects, as a parallel set of dramatic relationships, are imposed into the work in a way that can reinforce the charts/schematics or conflict with them. These relationships exist within a space fluctuating between the physical painted surface and ambiguous illusion. The birch plywood material extends the painted layers of information and allows for penetration and superimposition of found objects into the surface. I have been developing two bodies of recent work – one based on landscape and the other based on portraiture. I have been transcribing landscapes into schematics that unearth a kind of intelligence found in the land. These transcriptions are inspired by the Flint Hills, or the landscapes depicted in the "Big Bend" paintings of mid 20th Century regionalist Alexandre Hogue. The relationship of objects act out, or offer a counterpoint scenario to, these landscape transcriptions. I have also developed an alternative approach to portraiture, researching aspects of an individual's life and work, then painting from the subsequent vocabulary of objects and schematics – creating an abstraction of their life. Future projects involve merging the research methods from my portrait commissions into the landscape work while expanding them to studies of place.


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