2020: Kevin Brophy
Brophy earned her BA in Studio Art and Creative Writing from the University of South Florida and her MFA from Carnegie Mellon University as a Regina and Marlin Miller Fellow. She has exhibited at Tampa Museum of Art and Contemporary Art Museum of Tampa; performed at MoCA Cleveland and at the Carnegie Museum of Art for Opening Engagement, Pittsburgh; and intervened in H&M at International Mall, Tampa and the Perez Art Museum Miami.
2019: Sophie Brenneman
Sophie Brenneman is a visual artist, designer, and poet. In 2015, she earned her B.F.A. in drawing and painting from The University of Southern Mississippi and in 2017 she earned her M.F.A. from The Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts in Philadelphia.
Brenneman’s artwork is conscious of her duality as a counterpart to her twin. As she explains, “My drawings and paintings are an investigation of the physical and psychological implications of twinness. Curiosities about navigating a dualistic life—living simultaneously as an individual and a pair—are made visual.” Due to this personal attribute, Brenneman is perceptive to those around her and the interaction between all involved.
2016: Vanessa Michalak
Vanessa Michalak grew up in Maine before relocating to Boston, MA where she has lived and worked for the past ten years. She earned her MFA from the School of the Museum of Fine Arts with a concentration in painting and her BSN from the University of Maine in Orono. She was awarded the Massachusetts Cultural Council Fellowship in Painting in 2014. Her work was included in New American Paintings #110 and her painting, "On the Way Home," was featured on the cover of Fresh Paint Magazine, issue 3. Her work was exhibited in the MFA National Competition, Juried by Asya Geisberg, First Street Gallery, New York, NY. She is currently the emerging artist in residence at Penn State, Altoona for the 2016 spring semester.
Ideas about escapism, adventure and humans' relationship with nature are explored in paintings created by the synthesis of memories, imagination and found photos. Although some paintings place sole emphasis on the landscape itself, indications of human activity are often present. Figures move through forests and viewers are forced to make their way through overgrown paths. Particular structures within the landscape allude to impermanence or more specific interactions with the environment. As a Maine native, traveler and avid hiker, the spirit of searching and exploring parallels my painting process. Reinventing, pursuing solutions and discovering the scope of paint's material capacity becomes as important as my subject matter. Allowing myself to get a "little lost in the woods" as I teeter on the edge of abstraction and representation or "adventure on new paths" whilst conceding to unfamiliar methods, makes the process of creating each painting a unique quest. Ultimately the paintings become not only a reflection of my inner restlessness and my longing to reconnect with nature but also a record of my incessant investigation of the painting process.
2015: Erika Stearly
Erika Stearly completed her MFA at Indiana University of Pennsylvania and her BFA at Kutztown University, with concentrations in painting. She is the recipient of numerous awards, including a grant from the Black Rock Arts Foundation for an interactive painting installation that traveled to several locations across Pennsylvania in 2014. Her work has been included in recent and upcoming exhibitions at the Washington Project for the Arts in Washington, D.C., Future Tenant at Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA, and the New Arts Program in Kutztown, PA.
My paintings feature furniture and other household objects as a way to contemplate abstraction and representation. As their titles suggest, these paintings depict actual residences. These paintings initially strive to faithfully render the objects in these spaces. However, as the paintings evolve, they become influenced by the behavior of the paint and begin to emphasize the hand of the artist. The coexistence of abstraction and representation, along with the liminal hybrid of the two, serve to orient the viewer, inviting them to construct their own narrative of the scene.
2014: Alyssa Reiser Prince
Alyssa Reiser Prince was born in Erie, Pennsylvania, spent her childhood in the northeast, and in Charlotte, NC. She has exhibited at Miami University's Young Painters Competition in Oxford, OH., the Zhou B. Art Center's Wet Paint Exhibition in Chicago, IL., the Center for Visual Arts in Greenville, SC., the McColl Center of Visual Art in Charlotte, NC., and the NoDa arts district in Charlotte, NC., among others. She graduated from Clemson University with an MFA, emphasis in Painting, and the University of North Carolina at Charlotte, with a BFA, emphasis in Painting with an Art History Minor.
As we recall moments from our past, we remember our visual experiences, the way the light hit the trees, the way in which we felt very small compared to our surroundings, or the infinite space around us. In turn, the paintings reflect these ideas; they display a fragmentary visual structure that alludes to our senses and emotional feelings of awareness and wonder of the experience.
The act of remembering is an imaginative, reconstructive process. Our minds do not function as a filing cabinet, retrieving information that was stored away for safekeeping. We actively engage, change, distort and recreate our memories in every instance. Sometimes, the more we try and remember, the more distorted our memories become. Yet, they no less influence us. Our memories start to become stories we've told ourselves over and over again, with the narrative changing ever so slightly each time. Through remembering, we amplify some things: a cold touch, a sweet taste, and warmth that envelops us, while other details fall to the wayside. We remember and experience past memories under the lens of our subjective and ever-changing present. Simultaneously we occupy past and present through these experiences. Time disappears and forgoes its linear quality. My paintings convey these ideas of remembering and reconstructing by depicting the partial and incomplete, referencing multiple sensations, and alluding to the ever-shifting and fragmentary nature of our experience over and through time.
2013: Jason Gorcoff
I grew up on popular culture: films, video games, and comic books. The illustrations for movie posters and game cartridges were often very realistic as were the special effects in the various horror and science fiction films. I was inspired by their realism and dramatic subject matter. This is the visual language from my youth and also the language that I emulate in my work. The themes of my paintings are often personal and the ideas are not all that complicated. I am drawn towards stories of good and evil or human conflict in general. With my images, I hope to be able to express a simple dynamic of struggle and longing that exists in life. And above all else, I try to create an image of physical beauty.
I consider my roots to be in the commercial art world and that popular culture’s standards of craft introduced me to realism. But, recently my work has begun to heavily reference 17th century Dutch and Italian painting. There is a “quiet” that exists among the religious drama of the Tenebrists that I greatly admire: a sense of something deeply spiritual. The act of painting has become part of my spirituality. A necessity. I am spending long hours with myself each day, meditating. Time spent in the studio is time spent battling--- battling your own will within your own mind.
Formally, representational work is an illusion: an illusion of form and space on a two-dimensional surface. In short, it is a lie. But it can do many things to a viewer. The world of stories—the world of heroes, monsters, horror, and fiction—are all illusions. They show us a place that does not exist. But this is a world that says many things about the world we inhabit. It is a world that uses metaphor to illustrate how life feels, but not how it actually is. It is a world that can freeze a moment and meditate on its fleeting content. As Stephen King puts it: “Fiction is the truth inside the lie.”
With my paintings, I do not offer the viewer any concrete moral about our world. I do not tell them what to distrust or critique, or what social or political demons to be wary of. On the contrary, I attempt to offer them escape ... a look into a world, where hopefully they will find a place of strange beauty and mystery.
2012: Jodi Lightner
In every moment, we find ourselves in relative relationship to architecture. Structures or buildings find their way into our everyday life and provide a sense of order we submissively adhere to. We live in and around them, move up and downstairs, and walk around walls. We also skirt around the outside and climb over fences. The order structures provide is the foundation for our experiences within them.
I see my work as journal entries depicting the metaphors of relationships through the use of structures and architecture. I gather my structures and experiences from places of importance. They come from travels, times with family and friends, and memories of my childhood. I typically utilize public places in my work and ask the viewer to consider the relevance and power of structure within life experiences, a kind of lived pathway through either experience or memory.
A Kansas native, Lightner completed her MFA degree at Wichita State University in 2010. She has exhibited nationally and internationally, including juried and invitational shows. Her work has been seen in Angle Gallery, Seattle, the AIR Gallery, New York City, and the Cocoon Gallery, Kansas City as well as other locations throughout the United States. She has also participated in artist residencies focused on studio practice at the International School of Painting, Drawing, and Sculpture in Montecastello diVibio, Italy, and the Vermont Student Center in Johnson, Vermont.
2011: Susan Marie Brundage
A fascination with how we construct the reality around us, the power of signs and symbols, social politics, and our relationship with the natural world are all things that have been at the heart of my artistic practice from a very early age.
My current paintings depict various environments from the American landscape which have their own specific set of signifiers (and baggage) that I desire to play off of in the work. To support my intentions, I create a magical space for these deadpan subjects using color, scale, and detail to entice the viewer into looking and spending time in these locales. They are places in stark contrast to the mediated images we are bombarded with every day on television and in print. Ultimately, the intent of the work is to make the viewer more sensitive in a small way to the social realities that exist around them, even though they represent something most Americans would rather ignore.
2010: Holly Tingley
Psychology has played a substantial role in my development as an artist and I am especially interested in trying to express my experience as an identical twin. A shared appearance, sometimes inferred as a shared identity, has made me very conscious of individuality and others' perceptions of it. Much of who we are is determined by the way people react to us. We are the result of our environment as much as we are a product of nature. Twin studies are often subject to this debate of nurture vs nature. In my work, this question of what it is, exactly, that makes each of us unique, is addressed in the doubling or twinning of my subject’s image. Within my painting, this is sometimes done by physically folding the canvas in half, creating a mirrored print of the original portrait. Whether in the womb or on the canvas, a division or fold takes place and like identical twins, two separate entities emerge within one perceived identity. The folded image not only makes reference to twinning, but it is directly linked to psychology because of its resemblance to the Rorschach inkblot.
Issues related to the fields of human genetics, concepts of otherness, the uncanny and the copy, also influence the nature of my work. Increased births and the lingering threat of human cloning, make us question further who we are physically as well as psychologically. I see this as similar to how continuous reproduction of our own image, through the immediacy of digital photography, plays an important role in how we see ourselves. My work is an ongoing investigation of this state of constant individual redefinition.
2009: Lauren Scanlon
Lauren earned an MFA in printmaking from The Ohio State University (2007) and a BA in anthropology from the University of Memphis (1999). Her work is narrative and combines drawing, painting, printmaking, and textiles. Recent and upcoming exhibitions include Paper Narratives Denver, CO (2009), Liminal Spaces Cohasset, MA (2010) and a solo exhibition at the Flood Gallery in Asheville, NC (2010). She has been an artist in residence at the Vermont Studio Center and Penland School of Craft.