Arts Review: Emotional Responses Come Alive at 'Material Girls'

click to enlarge Arts Review: Emotional Responses Come Alive at 'Material Girls'
This summer, there’s a warm glow inside HEDGE Gallery, and it’s not the August humidity or the collective body heat of the thousands of Third Friday attendees. All summer long, the gallery’s walls are filled with dozens of bold, vibrant paintings by two of Cleveland’s most promising emerging artists. Material Girls is an exhibition of expressive paintings by Katy Richards and Nikki Woods.

Katy Richards and Nikki Woods have been friends since attending Cleveland Institute of Art. Richards graduated in 2011 and went on to earn her MFA from Cranbrook Academy of Art in 2014. Woods graduated in 2012 and joined CIA’s faculty the following year, currently working as the Project and Visiting Artist Coordinator in CIA’s Reinberger Galleries.

The duo’s work is a natural fit, pairing together as well as the women themselves. Their style, subject matter, process/techniques and overarching concept are quite similar. The duo’s similarities and differences create a dynamic balance. This balance creates a harmony that echoes throughout the gallery. The two seamlessly complement each other in this cohesive exhibition.

Material Girls includes dozens of exciting new works by Richards and Woods. At first, it may be difficult to decipher which artist painted each canvas without looking at the wall tag. However, each painter’s unique characteristics become more apparent as you continue to explore the gallery.

Both artists’ painting styles evoke an emotional response. They both explore the permeable boundary between realistic depiction and expressive abstraction. Through this abstraction and use of materials, you can feel the subjects’ presence far more deeply than a traditional photograph of the same object or scene.

However, these everyday objects and scenes are less important than the viewer’s internal reaction to them. Emphasizing the characteristics and personality of their subjects through their application of paint, Richards and Woods subtly explore human psychology and sensuality.

The show includes work of various scale and price point. You can find large canvases to fill a room or small gouache and watercolor works on paper for smaller spaces (and budgets).

Material Girls will remain on view through Sept. 4 at HEDGE. Additional viewing hours are Monday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 5 p.m. or by appointment. Stop in for a Third Friday reception from 5 to 9 p.m. Aug. 21. The rest of 78th Street Studios’ galleries and studios will be open to the public as well.

(HEDGE Gallery at 78th Street Studios) 1300 W. 78th St., Suite 200, 330-819-7280,

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