Mystery/Ambiguity/Narrative: The Paintings of Kathryn Myers
January 22, 2000 - April 23, 2000
The Bruce Museum of Arts and Science presents Mystery/Ambiguity/Narrative: The Paintings of Kathryn Myers from January 22, 2000 through April 23, 2000. The exhibition features a selection of recent oil paintings by the contemporary artist Kathryn Myers. Her work explores subtle interactions between the figures that populate her canvases using strong, dramatic lighting of the Baroque period.
"What impresses us at first glance about the art of Kathryn Myers is the link with some of the world's greatest painting," says Nancy Hall-Duncan, Curator of Art of the Bruce Museum and organizer of the show. "Yet these works are stunningly contemporary - even unthinkable in terms other than that of our present society - in that they are based not in the religious conviction which motivated artists like Caravaggio, but on the problems of social interaction and existential uncertainty which characterize our modern world. The work of Kathryn Myers work is filled with ambiguity and expectancy, the about-to-happen about which we are never sure."
The 1991 painting Superstition illustrates, as does her work subsequent work, the artist's narrative technique of emphasizing unseen emotional relationships. "The models were friends of mine, people I was hanging around with that summer," explained Myers. "Like many of the earlier works, the narrative developed as I painted. When I started painting Superstition, it was as a domestic scene, a group of people at a dinner table. It developed into a high-tension drama, with three of the figures starting to draw a story out of the figure on the right." Superstition, on view in Mystery/ Ambiguity/Narrative, is now part of the Bruce Museum's permanent collection. The artist gave the work to the Museum after it appeared in The Connecticut Biennial II exhibition at the Bruce Museum in 1991.
Myers eventually dropped the specific Baroque religious influence from her work while retaining the same type of lighting and figural arrangement. "Religious forms were distant from my life at this point," she said. "It was getting too easy and was no longer challenging to use them. I felt there were enough things in my own life through both experience and observation on which to draw and to inspire imagery."
By 1998 Myers was doing three categories of work: constructed narratives, found narratives, and portraits that become narrative because of the setting or the implied relationship with another figure. "Constructed narratives," the artist has said, "were those in which I created set-ups from scratch, while found narratives were situations in which I was looking out for fragments of things that have the same mystery, ambiguity and tension that I find myself continually drawn to."
The most recent paintings of Kathryn Meyers include a group of portraits of Indian workers such as a barber, a bricklayer, and a merchant that contain the same sense of mysterious tension of her earlier work. They were executed from photographs, sketches, and memory of her trip to India in the summer of 1999, which included a month at each of two artists' residencies in Ahmedabad and New Delhi. "I wanted to work in an unfamiliar environment so that I would be forced to rethink associations I might normally make, to see if I could recognize that which I normally invented," Myers explained. Several of these recent works will be on view in Mystery/Ambiguity/Narrative.
Kathryn Myers, who travels widely, has exhibited in Italy, Poland, Spain and throughout the United States. Her most recent exhibitions include a two-person show, Inside Stories, at the Armory Art Center in West Palm Beach, Florida, and Aspects of Realism at Allegheny College in Allegheny, Pennsylvania. Born in Chicago, Illinois in 1958 the artist received a M.F.A. from the University of Wisconsin, Madison in 1983. She began her current position teaching painting at the University of Connecticut at Storrs in 1994.
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