Heather Leigh McPherson: A Platform for Traits
January 14 – February 28, 2015
Curated by Jamilee Lacy
Heather Leigh McPherson: 30 Special Colors
November 4 - December 14, 2015
Curated by Jamilee Lacy
Greenlease Gallery, Rockhurst University
Heather Leigh McPherson moves freely between surface and space in dealing with painting in the digital age. Her paintings are playfully formed with vividly colored layers and glazes on diverse surfaces, and exhibit a range of cultural references, from Imagist portraiture and the raucous painting style of Elizabeth Murray to early Mac OS screensavers and graphic design trends. Her digital images and animated GIFs collage hand-drawn elements, found imagery and Photoshop filters. Her forays into sculpture and installation bring to mind both shopping mall kiosks and the elaborate sets of filmmakers like Kenneth Anger and Pedro Almodóvar.
For tangential exhibitions at Providence College—Galleries’ and Rockhurst University's Greenlease Gallery, McPherson has designed A Platform for Traits and 30 Special Colors, each a presentation of painting, digitally projected GIFs and installation to examine the complex visual and structural relationships between canvas and computer screen, portraiture and abstraction, and white cube and digital space. Taking 'faciality'—Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s compositional allusion to the human face in art and architecture—as an organizing principle, this project emphasizes the ways in which the face, the computer screen and the painting act as structural boundaries between two worlds, and manipulates the traditional functions of pedestals and pristine gallery walls to propose a series of alternate viewing modes. As the exhibition’s title implies, these viewing modes present an opportunity to distinguish between the inherent traits of a thing—a line or an eyebrow, an orb or a face—and to identify where new characteristics develop through pictorial repetition.
Each exhibition is accompanied by multi-format publications produced by Providence College—Galleries. Providence College—Galleries Director and Curator Jamilee Lacy provides an essay contextualizing the exhibitions in light of recent modes in art history and contemporary visual culture. Art historian Daniel Marcus focuses on faciality in an interview with McPherson. Novelist Eric Bennett contributes a creative writing piece, aesthetically inspired by the artist’s working process.
About the Artist
Heather Leigh McPherson is an artist living and working in Providence, Rhode Island. Additional recent solo exhibitions include Anytime Concept at Vox Populi in Philadelphia and Hot Salad at 186 Carpenter in Providence, and in 2016 she will launch a solo project at Actual Size Los Angeles. She was recently awarded a merit fellowship in painting from the Rhode Island State Council for the Arts, and in 2014 she was an artist-in-residence at the Wassaic Artist Residency in Wassaic, New York. McPherson holds a BFA from Washington University in St. Louis and a MFA in painting from Rhode Island School of Design. She is an associate professor of painting at Providence College is Rhode Island.