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“Unexpected Connections” is a new, online exhibition series that reviews past solo exhibits in a new light by merging two or three artists’ works in this alternative space. This particular series is in search of unexpected connections between diverse artworks following distinct inspirations. With it, we look to offer a broader look at the world by how it’s interpreted through visual art.
The first two artists’ works kicking off this investigative series are Robin Jebavy and Peggy Thurston Farrell. Jebavy’s exhibit, “Fragile Illusions: Fusing the Senses,” was presented in Fall, 2019 and Thurston Farrell’s exhibit, “Merging Global Spiritual and Digital Cultures,” was shown in Spring, 2016.
“Unexpected Connections: Robin Jebavy and Peggy Thurston Farrell”
The images in both of these artworks create a sense of energy through repeated, pointed shapes spinning away from center. In Jebavy’s piece, bright glassware forms point outward over luminous pieces of a still-life environment, inspired by stained-glass windows and other cathedral ornamentation. In Thurston Farrell’s piece, hands and arrows connected to a central QR code aim at floating symbols from spiritual cultures, inspired by her Asian travels.
Both of these artworks have multitudes of the artists’ distinctive shapes/symbols compressed into a circular format. They also have pieces jutting out of the tight constraints of the inner area, though Jebavy’s are energetically breaking open into that space while Thurston Farrell’s are only slightly disrupting their boundary as they edge out.
Each of these pieces focuses on an off-center circle and layers of shapes that exist within and around it. In both, a sort of jewel, situated within its circular frame, engenders distinctive details that sets it apart from the rest of the surrounding textures and shapes.
Though dissimilar at first glance between Jebavy’s warm palette and Thurston Farrell’s cool, the two inner rectangles of Jebavy’s soon connect visually to the outer shapes of Thurston Farrell’s. Further, they’re both grounded in bold, geometric structures that hold marks that exist either as details of broken objects, as in Jebavy's, or as or as pieces of codes and cultures, as in Thurston Farrell’s.
Artist Statements from Exhibits
In my paintings, I experiment with glassware imagery—a reference to our fragile and often precarious human condition—to ask questions about our intimate relationship with the external world. The simple glass vessels that I use to make preliminary tabletop arrangements are at once functional containers (such as goblets, bowls, cups, flutes, and decanters)—that I fill with evocative, colored liquids to engage our senses—and conduits into liminal, ecstatic states of being. I often incorporate glassware forms that call to mind elements of cathedral interiors, suggesting their massive architectural supports, stained glass windows, fine ornamentation, and decorative flourishes. This intersection of painting and architecture enables me to conflate monumentality with modest, everyday objects. The complex, structured edifices that emerge tend to read as illusory, groundless fragments of experience—like elemental, mystical utopias that hover before our eyes.
In my mixed media works on paper, I continue using the subject of glassware to reference our precarious human condition, and to reinforce a faithfulness to the idea that the still life can explore the fusion of our inner world’s unbounded expanse with domestic, private experience; but, instead of making formal representations of glassware edifices, these new pieces are intimate, raw, and inconclusive. They still beckon the viewer to contemplate metaphysical questions, but questions seen through a more whimsical, less structured lens. In this new body of work, I am particularly interested in representing a crossing and fusing of the senses of sight, smell, and hearing in experience.
Flyers from Exhibits
Peggy Thurston Farrell
The passage of time from maiden to crone, the relationship of ancient and contemporary signs and symbols, and the merging of virtual vs. spiritual transport are issues explored in this exhibit.
My current interest in signs and symbols grew out of a number of trips I took to Asia between 2001 and 2008. While traveling, I couldn’t help but notice the ubiquitous use of symbols. There were symbols for birth, death and good luck found on clothing, jewelry, calendars, shrines, temples, and public transportation. I began to take note, collect and ponder. To primitive man, symbols were a natural part of everyday life, but to modern man they are meaningless, or are they? As my explorations broadened, I began to see similarities between Eastern and Western cultures.
The first time I saw a QR code I was mesmerized. What was this beautiful little black and white design square? As I soon discovered, it was a code that when scanned with an I Phone, transports the viewer to a virtual space. At the time, I was studying Eastern mandalas and was struck by the similarities. Mandalas are a spiritual and ritual symbol representing the universe and help transport believers to a spiritual center whereas QR codes help transport believers to a virtual place. The relationship was eye opening. This relationship is something I have been exploring as I silkscreen, collage and embed QR codes and symbols in contemporary mandalas. As I repeat and print symbols again and again they create something more. New symbols emerge and challenge how we see our world, ourselves and our spiritual journey.