Still Life

Still Life

Art Palace Gallery, Houston, TX

July 8 - August 20, 2011

Still Life presents four artists whose work abstracts and expands the ordinary things in our everyday world. Working in photography and painting each artist approximates the construction of our material world. Art historian Norman Bryson states, “still life pitches itself at a level of material existence where nothing exceptional occurs.” By engaging the unexceptional, the artists in this exhibition employ mundane objects to circumvent allegory or deeper meaning. While these works remain meaningful, each artist engages with the object as an armature for exploration of the formal qualities of the picture.

Travis Kent catalogues the things, personal and otherwise, he encounters on any given day-snapshots of his desk filled will detritus, a bronze bust surrounded by greenery, a gray seascape. Morgan Jones takes photographs of time-worn items and places them amidst a digital field of vivid color. Dramatizing the tension between illusion and flatness in her abstract wall paintings, Stacie Johnson creates a shape out of paper and allows the painted shadows and trompe l’oeil effects to interact with the site-specific object. Ben Ruggiero examines elements in Frederic Church’s sketches of Icebergs from 1859 while using one large piece of glass to create gestural images that employ traditional 19th century photographic processes. Taken together, the artists in Still Life use things in the world to both reaffirm and transcend our day-to-day life.

About the Artists

Travis Kent was born and raised in Long Island, New York. A graduate from the School of Visual Arts in New York, Kent currently lives and works in Austin, TX. His work has been exhibited in several group shows and was featured in the Warsaw based publication A4. He has held solo exhibitions at SOFA and Domy books, both in Austin, TX.

Morgan Jones was born in Ohio. He received his BFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York. He has exhibited his work in shows throughout the United States and Europe at such venues as SOFA, Austin, TX; Public Surface, Stockholm Sweden; Jupiter the Mighty Oak; Bushwick, Brooklyn; and the Web Biennial of the Istanbul Museum of Contemporary Art, Istanbul, Turkey. Jones recently moved to Austin, TX.

Stacie Johnson was born and raised in Iowa. She received her MFA in 2004 from the University of Illinois at Chicago. In the last year she has exhibited with Brooklyn’s COHORT collective, at Place Gallery, Brooklyn Fireproof and as part of Horse Trader’s project at the Aqua Art Fair in Miami. In 2010, Johnson had two solo shows, one at Ebersmoore in Chicago and one at SOFA in Austin, TX. Johnson is a founding member of the artist-run curatorial collective Regina Rex. She lives in Brooklyn, NY.

Ben Ruggiero has exhibited his work nationally and internationally, including Art and Commerce’s Festival of Emerging Photography, Fotofest and Austin Museum of Art’s New Art in Austin Triennial. His recent solo project “After Icebergs with a Painter” was shown at Testsite in Austin, TX. He is a graduate of Bard’s MFA program, a Senior Lecturer of Photography at Texas State University as well as a member of the Austin photography collective “Lakes Were Rivers”.