PARALLEL PURSUITS / Curator’s Statement
Julian Jackson, Jeffrey Cortland Jones, Liz Sweibel, Josette Urso, Tamar Zinn
curated by Tamar Zinn
Parallel Pursuits focuses on the work of several artists who actively follow multiple paths in the studio, rather than narrowing their attention to a single direction. In my own studio practice, drawing and painting have played equal roles for many years, and though quite different in intention, process, and outcome, both are essential to who I am as a visual artist. Given my own dual visual personalities, I was curious to learn about the experiences of other artists.
In my conversations with the artists exhibiting in Parallel Pursuits, it became clear that there are numerous reasons for working in multiple directions and they vary with the individual. We may be driven by restlessness, an interest in experimenting with unfamiliar materials, or working this way may simply be intrinsic to an artist’s practice. What we share is that we don’t see one body of work as a means to develop ideas for the other – they are of equal importance and remain distinct. While over time, one body of work may inform the other, doing both satisfies our need for multiple ways of making.
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Julian Jackson describes his collages as “a kind of visual laboratory.” While his abstract paintings reflect a carefully developed compositional structure, his collages allow for freedom and playfulness, and serve to “connect me to the world outside my painting practice.”A striking contrast between the two bodies of work is that in Jackson’s collages, the rhythmic compositions are sharply defined by cut paper, while his paintings offer subtle, soft-edged geometries in light-filled spaces.
For Jeffrey Cortland Jones, painting and drawing are intimately connected. Both are primarily about “the relationship of a form with another.” But while his paintings are abstract and formal, the drawings give him the opportunity “to make a more direct reference to the landscape.” And unlike the spare compositions of his paintings, the mark of the hand is fully evident in the energetic brushwork of his drawings. When Jones subsequently cuts up the drawings and juxtaposes the pieces, he returns to his visual preoccupation of placing one form in interaction with another.
In describing both her two and three-dimensional work, Liz Sweibel writes, “all of my work is primary and a drawing process.” Sweibel’s sculptures are assembled from an amalgam of irregularly shaped wood fragments that have accumulated in her studio over many years. These intimate constructions, which Sweibel sometimes takes apart and reconfigures, appear grounded but include elements whose stability is tenuous. While her thread and vellum drawings are visually crisp and stitched with precision, they evoke a sense of vulnerability as precariously stacked forms spill through space.
Josette Urso writes thatworking with collage “satisfies my natural and lifelong ‘collector’and ‘archivist’ sensibilities.” In her collages, Urso establishes a formal geometric framework to contain the busyness of the colorful cut papers. In contrast, Urso’s brushwork and energized forms are free to roam across the canvas in paintings marked by an unrestrained and joyful vitality. What connects the two bodies of work, according to Urso, is that they are both intuitive, and reflect her desire to keep things off-balance.
For Tamar Zinn, the act of drawing “is an immediate, intensely physical experience.” Her drawings have an urgency that reflects a process of rapid mark-making. In contrast, Zinn’s atmospheric paintings reference “shifting visual sensations experienced during meditation.” While the drawings satisfy a need for expression through gesture, the many-layered paintings are slow and reflective. She sees both bodies of work as central to her identity.