Harris Stanton Gallery Brings Together Locally Trained Artists

Harris Stanton Gallery Brings Together Locally Trained Artists
Harris Stanton Gallery’s Cleveland location presents a special group exhibition showcasing emerging artists locally trained through art programs in Northeast Ohio. New Directions includes work by Charity Thomas (Kent), Phil Soucy (CIA), Grace Summanen (Kent) and Eric Ford (Akron). To celebrate, the gallery will host a free, public reception from 6 to 8 p.m. this Friday, Feb. 12. At 7 p.m., the artists will discuss their work during a gallery talk.

“This is the second year we have held this exhibition,” explains Ellie Kaiser, Gallery Director at Harris Stanton Gallery’s Cleveland location. “It’s our plan to hold it annually and alternate hosting it between our Akron and Cleveland locations. As a gallery we feel it’s our responsibility to support the local institutions that educate this region’s artists. We want to support not only the mid-career and well established artists, but also the fresh talent that Northeast Ohio is so rich with.” (Last year’s artists included Meaghan Reed, Abbey Blake, Omid Tavakoli and Sean O’Donnell.)

Each of these artists focuses heavily on material and process more than subject matter or narrative. You won’t find any representation imagery of portraits, landscapes or still lifes in this show. Instead, the works focus on the viewer’s emotional and psychological response.

Eric Ford studied sculpture at the University of Akron, but his work now focuses on installations created with latex tubing made by a local manufacturing company. Rather than focus on a subject or narrative, Ford is interested in the physical ambiguity of this commercial material re-contextualized in a formal gallery setting. He adds, “Given a lack of narrative, the work I produce is very much focused on material and process. These two key components are crucial to the existence of my work and are attributes that compel me to make the work I make.”

Phil Soucy’s unique creative process serves as documentation of each work’s own creation. Rather than applying pigment to canvas or paper in traditional ways, Soucy blows bright ink around the paper with his own breath, and later hand colors to accentuate line and form. He elaborates: “The work serves as a record of each breath, each moment, during its own creation, illustrating the process of thought, with later outlines and layers highlighting and sharpening the inherent twists and turns. If the work is the documentation of a moment—a thought being formed—it is therefore also a record of neurons and synapses firing in the brain.”

Grace Summanen received her MFA from Kent State University. Rather than painting on canvas or other traditional materials, Summanen paints on found objects and debris. For this exhibition, her work focuses on painted fabric that she molds into small hanging sculptures. Of this new work, she says, “Currently, I have been exploring folded fabric as a means to explore line and movement. In the tradition of painting, fabric is a common still life subject. Instead of painting the illusion of fabric, I am painting the fabric itself. This abstracts the subject matter for inspection, exploration and transformation.”

Charity Thomas is a current student in Kent State’s MFA program. Utilizing mainly organic materials like unbleached wool and handmade paper, Thomas creates repetitious, quiet works. Her objective is to create work that is meditative and therapeutic. She explains, “I intend for the pieces to draw the viewer in with their perceived plainness, giving way to minute detail, and to convey the mood of quiet concentration and calm I feel when I am making them.”

New Directions remains on view through March 19 during normal gallery hours: Tuesday through Friday from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Saturday from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. and closed Sunday and Monday; or by appointment.

(Harris Stanton Gallery) 1370 W. 9th St., 216-471-8882, harristantongallery.com

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