It’s in the Details: Artebella Daily curated by Daniel Pfalzgraf
Robyn Gibson is a 26-year-old artist from Louisville, Kentucky who just received her BFA in 2D design with a concentration in drawing and painting, a BSBA in Marketing, and a minor in Entrepreneurship from the University of Louisville in the Fall of 2014. She recently took part in the LVA/The Institute Open Studio Weekend, where I came across her work.
As I selected work for this week’s series of Artebella Daily posts, I purposely shifted back and forth between large and small, always showing that no matter the scale, there is more to see. This piece by Gibson is another small portrait piece similar to the Patrick Smith work featured earlier in the week. Like the Smith work, Gibson’s scale pulls you into it for an intimate conversation. I love how even with how small of scale it initially appears, there is more on the surface of the painting for you to see if you allow yourself to get close enough and pay attention. What may seem like any ordinary surface when standing at a comfortable distance from the subject becomes much more dynamic when you give yourself the time to look deeper. When viewing the most zoomed-in detail shot, you really are able to see that there is a lot going on.
I think that those thoughts about the material surface of the work are an apt metaphor for Gibson’s work as a whole. Gibson is a young African American artist who conceptually works around subjects such as race, sex, ethnicity, and age. These differences that we have with each other, she realizes, aren’t easily dismissed given the collective history of our society. She begins her work by interviewing her subjects that then become a part of the in-depth portraits. These interviews, along with the paintings, provide an opportunity to share the subjects’ lives and to see their differences, but they also provide an opportunity for understanding and respect of both the people and the differences. Hopefully, by developing that understanding and respect, viewers on their own will come to realize the things that actually make us more alike, without the artist having to be there holding your hand and walking you through it herself.
Gibson archives her interviews with her subjects online for anyone to listen to. If you click on the link for the Derrance interview, you learn more about who he is as a man. A coach, someone who cares deeply for children, and a man with mean air guitar skills. The interview holds an incredible amount of information that adds to the viewing of the painted portrait. You begin to gain a fuller sense of his physical presence and his strength. You develop a point of view from which to read the slight cocking of the neck and the furrow of his the eyebrows. Even the watch that holds a central place in the composition holds more meaning.
Curator’s Statement: When I was asked if I’d like to curate a week of LVA’s Artebella Daily email blasts, my immediate, gut reaction was that of excitement. LVA does a lot of wonderful programming for local artists and the community at large, so I love opportunities to work with them. But as the excitement built, reality followed close behind to temper my buzz as I thought about how to curate a digital collection. I love tactile experiences. I like playing with space. What experience can a viewer have looking at a digital image representing a physical object from the analog world?
The digital age has trained us to only afford a cursory glance-over of online imagery as we form opinions within milliseconds. We know in an instant whether we want to continue investigating an item in front of us. If we don’t immediately dismiss an object, we may allow an additional three seconds before we either close the window or decide to read the introductory text accompanying the image. If there is enough of a connection made within the next few seconds of reading a snippet of a text, then we might decide to take action and click to either read more of the text or jump straight to the collection of images. Then what happens? We often flip through the images at a rate similar to our initial appraisal of the worthiness of the email. If the artist is lucky, maybe, just maybe, someone has spent as much as a full 30 to 60 seconds from which to completely judge the value of their work that they have created to be viewed in the real world, in the flesh, with special lighting and most importantly, not on a flattened screen at the fraction of the size of the original.
This mentality is the very antithesis of experience sought in museum, gallery, or studio settings. It is this new phenomenon that has given rise to counter movements such as the Annual Slow Art Day that never had a reason to exist before. We all love the immediacy and expansive access to new experiences, but how can we embrace our twenty first century realities while still honoring our more timeless traditions? This is a duality that I’ve played with for the past number of years as I coordinated online life for different galleries and museums. One solution to calming my irrational, neurotic fixation to this “problem” was to simply post detail shots on social media of work currently on view where I worked. I started with “Detail Shots of the Week” on the green building gallery Tumblr page while I was the Director there, and then carried the practice over to the Carnegie Center for Art & History when I became their Curator and started an Instagram page and the “Carnegie Daily Detail” series. It’s not a revolutionary idea, but it’s one that I feel gives more information, more of a focus, on work to viewers who are typically only given one overall view of a work, and often not at a high enough resolution to really zoom in on something for the very select few who would actually take the extra time and effort to do so.
If you are among the people still here reading this winded promulgation, thank you. Enjoy this week’s selection of singular works by local and regional artists and take a few extra moments soak in what the artists have brought to life. I hope these images will then encourage you to get out and explore art more intimately and in person, studying beautiful intricacies, subtle tonal fluctuations, and the individual that combine to form grand works of art. – Daniel Pfalzgraf
oil on wood panel, 5x5iin, 2015
More Artwork by
At a Glance:
Name: Robyn Gibson
Hometown: Louisville, KY
BFA, 2D Design with a concentration in Drawing & Painting, University of Louisville; BSBA in Marketing, and a minor in Entrepreneurship