Field Projects | 526 West 26th Street
Field Projects is pleased to present CUT LIGHT / OPEN LATE, an exhibition of work by JOELL BAXTER and STELLA EBNER.
The exhibition is a conversation between two artists who work in the medium of screen printing. Both artists’ experimental processes push the printmaking technique to two disparate extremes. Ebner’s screen prints read like illustrative watercolors— she applies the printing inks in washes, slowly building up dozens of transparent colors on each print. Baxter’s prints strive for a state closer to sculpture— she cuts a highly colorful spectrum of screen-printed paper into thin strips, and then weaves the strips into abstract forms. Although their approaches are radically different, both artists are driven by not only the formal possibilities of the print medium, but the perceptual effects as well— re-envisioning the viewer’s relationship to color, light and space.
In CUT LIGHT / OPEN LATE, the artists contribute work from their individual, ongoing series. For Ebner’s part of the exhibition, she creates a progression of prints depicting the repetitive patterns of the LED signs on Halal food vendor carts in New York City. The prints trace the sequence of signs from the ubiquitous “OPEN LATE” text to the decorative flashes meant to capture the attention of passersby. Ebner reduces the movement of the lights into line and shape, following their journey from abstraction to legibility and back.
OPEN LATE investigates color and light, but vibrates with dark intensity. The prints are hung in a grid of static images like still frames from a film, sequenced to parallel the chronology of movement on an illuminated marquee. The succession of texts blink, echo and alternate with moments of abstraction, beckoning the viewer to fill in the blanks.
For the installation CUT LIGHT Baxter created seven site-specific cut and woven works that appear to reflect, refract and/or produce an illuminated triangle of light, possibly projected from Ebner’s piece, onto the back wall, floor and corner of the gallery. Each piece abuts an architectural feature of the gallery (floor, column, beam), activating the negative spaces between them, as if the illuminated triangle permeates the space, but is only visible on the surface of the loose weave.
Baxter's work ultimately acts as a sort of net or pixilated plane that catches and disperses the molecules of light in the gallery. Colors mutate, fade and intensify, seeming to hover just above the surface of the room like a prism, materializing the unseen shifts of light and air as the viewer moves through space.
Baxter and Ebner each use time- and labor-intensive processes to make, paradoxically, works of space and light. Through gradations of screen-printed color, they create a whisper-light physicality, reminding us of all of the flickering calls for attention that we pass by every day. Through the ephemeral nature of blinking light, Baxter and Ebner’s work ground us in the here and now, inhabiting bodies that have drag, pull and weight.
Joell Baxter holds an MFA from University of Illinois at Chicago, and a BFA from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. In 2014 she presented a solo exhibition at Real Art Ways in Hartford, Ct. Recent group exhibitions include: Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, N.C; The Visual Arts Center of New Jersey, Summit , N.J.; The International Print Center, New York, NY; and Regina Rex, New York, NY. She was an Artist in Residence at the Lower Manhattan Cultural Council in 2011-2012, and completed a Special Editions Residency at the Lower Eastside Printshop, NY in 2012-2013. She is currently a resident in the Sharpe-Walentas Studio Program, Brooklyn, NY.
Stella Ebner holds an MFA from the Rhode Island School of Design, Providence, RI; and a BFA from the University of Minnesota, MN. In 2014 she presented a solo and exhibition at The Print Center in Philadelphia, PA. Recent exhibitions include: Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CA; SFMOMA Artists Gallery, San Francisco, CA; Cade Tompkins Projects, Providence, RI; and the International Print Center New York, New York, NY. She was a fellow at Kala Art Institute, Berkeley, CA in 2012. She currently is a studio member at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts in NYC.