Chinese Painter Paired with Philly Ceramicist at IAP Gallery

Lauren Mabry

Lauren Mabry

(NORTH ADAMS, Mass.) – Atmospheric paintings by New York-based Chinese artist Shen Chen and abstract-painting-inspired ceramic sculptures by up-and-coming American artist Lauren Mabry will be on view at Independent Art Projects (IAP) on the MASS MoCA campus from Thursday, September 25, through Sunday, November 16, 2014. There will be an opening reception on Thursday, September 25, from 6 to 9pm, in conjunction with the DownStreetArt Closing Party.

With the concurrent installations of Chen and Mabry’s works – respectively presented by IAP co-founding galleries Cynthia-Reeves and Ferrin Contemporary – viewers are invited to explore the artists’ divergent, yet equally process-driven approaches to color and brushwork, as means of non-representational communication.

Shen Chen is both a systemic and intuitive painter. Trained in traditional Chinese landscape painting and calligraphy, encounters with western art, and above all with Jackson Pollock’s painting, Shen Chen works with thinned acrylic paint which he applies with special brushes in multiple layers to canvas laid on the floor. The gesture of the brushstroke, the traces of the touching and removal of the brush which is always guided in a vertical position across the painting surface, create a color space of hovering cloud-like effects.

Work by Shen Chen

Work by Shen Chen

Born in China in 1955, Shen Chen is a New York based artist. He began his art education in high school and continued his training at Shanghai Art College (previously known as the Shanghai “5.7” Art School). He moved to Beijing after earning his BFA from the Shanghai Academy of Theater in 1982. In 1988, he came to the United States on a fellowship as artist in residence at the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Later that year, he moved to New York upon receiving an exchange student fellowship from the Studio School of Painting and Sculpture. He continued his studies at Boston University on an MFA scholarship the following year. He has lived in New York since 1991.

In the 1980s, Shen Chen was one of China’s pioneers of Chinese abstract painting and experimental ink painting. He was an active member of “Art Salon” (an underground art movement). In 1978, he organized an experimental exhibition “Wild Rose” while he was still in college. Since then, he has shown his works at various art museums, including the Shanghai Art Museum and Ningbo Museum of Art. He held his first solo show in 1984 at the China Journalist Society in Beijing, and has continued showing his work in China and abroad at venues including the National Art Museum of China (NAMOC), Roma Academy of Fine Arts, Today Art Museum, Nantong Museum of Art, San Shang Museum of Contemporary Art, Shanghai University Museum, Queens Museum of Art, Zhendai Museum of Modern Art, Hexiangning Museum of Contemporary Art, Xi Hu Art Museum, Doulun Museum of Modern Art, Museum of Chinese in America, Singer Museum of Art, Bochum Museum, and Kunsthalle Recklinghausen.

After thirty years of practicing and creating art, Shen has become an artist with a profound influence in today’s art world, stirring “us to think and to perceive aesthetically, to open new conduits of perception and thought in the act of painting and in the reasoned meditative pose necessary to appreciate truly significant abstract painting.” (Robert C. Morgan) His work blends multiple cultural elements as he layers concepts of time and space with Zen philosophy, meditation, and repetition. Lilly Wei notes how, “in this perceptual vanishing and reconstitution, a cycle of meditation is established for the viewer in which what exists and what does not is inseparable.” Valerie Smith further emphasizes “what does emerge is a highly considered process that is immersive…to a peaceful place where there is time.” His paintings transport us—they bring us “full circle; just as the breath moves from emptiness to plenitude, so does our mind appreciate the void out of which all things originate.” (Jonathan Goodman)

mugsLauren Mabry is a producer of painterly, abstract, ceramic art. A calculated risk taker with a keen attraction to color, movement, and material, Mabry was selected for the 2014 Emerging Artist Award by NCECA, the National Council on Education for Ceramic Arts. The transformative properties of clay and glaze drive her ongoing compulsion to make, play, and experiment with surface.

Mabry’s work communicates directly through its formal and aesthetic qualities because it’s focused heavily on basic considerations like color, contrast, and movement. Her work is best understood in relationship to abstract painting and shares many similarities with post-minimalist and process art.

Originally from Madison, Wisconsin, Lauren Mabry is currently living and working as a studio artist in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania as a long term resident at The Clay Studio. Pursuing a career as an artist, she received her BFA in ceramics from Kansas City Art Institute in 2007 and her MFA from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln in 2012. She has also studied abroad in Kecskemét, Hungary at the International Ceramics Studio. Before graduate school Mabry studied and worked at Colorado State University and then was a resident artist at The Carbondale Clay Center (’08-’09). Her most recent residency was at The Archie Bray Foundation For Ceramic Arts (summer ’12). Mabry has work in permanent collections at the Nerman Museum of Contemporary Art (Overland Park, KS) and The Sheldon Museum of Art (Lincoln, NE). Her exhibitions include national, and international venues like The Bemis Center for Contemporary Art, Milwaukee Art Museum, Houston Center for Contemporary Craft, The Clay Studio of Philadelphia, and many more.

Work by Lauren Mabry

Work by Lauren Mabry

Lauren Mabry makes painterly, abstract, ceramic art. She is a calculated risk taker with a keen attraction to color, movement, and material. The transformative properties of clay and glaze drive her ongoing compulsion to make, play, and experiment with surface. Mabry’s work communicates directly through its formal and aesthetic qualities because it’s focused heavily on basic considerations like color, contrast, and movement.

Mabry’s work is a synthesis of intuitive, expressive surfaces and elemental forms – the result of a long-term exploration of the physical and chemical behavior of ceramic materials. The simple, cylindrical forms Mabry paints are still so the colors clash and resound with a kind of musical timbre, flowing with movement and creating rich, hypnotic tones and textures.

A collaboration between Leslie Ferrin and Cynthia Reeves, Independent Art Projects (IAP) is a contemporary art space opened on MASS MoCA’s campus in June 2014.

Directed by Martina Caruso, IAP is featuring works by mid-career and established artists in all media, as well as regular artist talks and public programs presented by founding galleries Ferrin Contemporary (Cummington, MA), and CYNTHIA-REEVES (New York, NY and Walpole, NH), as well as short-term exhibitions from select New York and New England based galleries. Past galleries participating in the project are Sienna Patti Contemporary (Lenox, MA) and Julie Saul Gallery (New York, NY).

HOURS: Thursday-Sunday 11am – 6pm

LOCATION: 1315 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247

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