Watercolor collagist Anna Chen and fantasy illustrator Victor Hart celebrate the end of their six-week shared residency at Redux Contemporary Art Center with a collaborative exhibition, Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places, through Dec. 16.
Redux’s Lightning Residency is a fast-paced, six-week program that provides emerging artists with studio space and opportunities to showcase their work at no cost. During the residency, artists work collaboratively on a comprehensive project, which is installed in the back gallery of Redux at the end of the program.
Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places is a culmination of the work Hart and Chen created during the program. Both artists typically work from home and expressed gratitude for the time and space to work on their art.
“Having a designated space to create has been so great,” Chen said. “I also loved being at Redux these last few weeks because of the access to amazing local artists, who I could pop over to and ask for opinions.”
Hart said that creating in a space dedicated solely to art making “allowed me to focus so much more than my home environment. I currently can’t afford a studio space, so the Lightning Residency was a dream come true.”
During his studio time, Hart created 100 drawings of fantastical bird-like creatures, a series he calls “Glowls.”
“I tried to impart a unique personality and form to each one, to allow viewers to search for and find the one they most identify with,” he said. “I’m really interested in lore and world building. I have a story behind each piece that viewers can try to infer.”
The exhibition features a piece of collaborative artwork, a collage titled “Me and the Boys.”
The centerpiece is one of Hart’s glowls surrounded by smaller birds created by Chen in her signature “watercolor collage” style. Chen initially discovered the technique while trying to use up scraps of watercolor paintings. She has since developed it into a unique medium, creating textured, two-dimensional collages using painted paper.
“‘Me and the Boys,’ it’s a great analogy for our individual energies,” Chen said, “but the work also reflects the time we spent together in the shared studio.
“Victor and I overlapped quite a bit during our residency, so it was really fun to get to learn all about his process. He has a serious depth of knowledge about art and materials,” Chen said.
On the title, Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places, she explained: “Victor tends to create faces, and I usually am inspired by places. This exhibition questions the ‘smiling and beautiful’ part.
“Typically, my work has focused on nostalgia and warm feelings,” she said. “For this residency, I wanted to see what it would look like to create pieces that made me feel uncomfortable instead. I still focused on everyday objects and scenes, but there is an undercurrent to each piece that makes it feel slightly off,” she said.
Hart added, “We both see beauty in things that might not normally be considered as such.”
Smiling Faces, Beautiful Places is on view at Redux Contemporary Art Center now through Dec. 16.
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