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Catalogue essay: Straight Forward, Image Driven

I was honoured to be commissioned to write the catalogue essay for Straight Forward, Image Driven, an exhibition curated by Izzy Nova at The Painting Center in New York from 5-30 October. The exhibition spotlights the work of five amazing artists: Beth Barry, Susan Luss, Shira Toren, Melody S. Boone and Nancy Elsamanoudi. Read on for an excerpt.

Straight Forward, Image Driven is a group exhibition featuring five contemporary artists who are based in and around New York, all of whom graduated from the interdisciplinary Pratt Institute between 1979 and 2013. These artists work across a range of media but are united by themes and concepts – the engagement with light in the work of Beth Barry and Susan Luss, the interrogation of personal and art histories by Shira Toren, Melody S. Boone, and Nancy Elsamanoudi – and by their interest in imagery and repeating motifs that reinforce their message and continued relevance. 

In bringing together these diverse, intergenerational artists, curator Izzy Nova, also a Pratt alumna, says, “It is important to me that artworks in this exhibition here have an immediate impact and that the messages behind the work are relatable, even through an abstract lens. Being the youngest member of the group, I walk into this role just like a student, learning all over again from these imprints.” 

Beth Barry and Susan Luss, respectively the first and last to graduate from Pratt, are both strongly influenced by light, color, movement, and their surroundings. Barry (b. New Bedford, Massachusetts) creates vivid canvases drawing from nature, specifically the coastline of her hometown, and her background in printmaking. Her abstract, expressionistic landscapes are often inspired by real places (Cappadocia, 2014), while her "Brainscapes'' travel within and are less easily identifiable (Filtered Light, 2018).

Read the full essay here.