Clough-Hanson Gallery (Rhodes College) / 2000 North Pkwy. May 9, 2020 - May 31, 2020

Melissa Dunn, Alexander Paulus, Emily C Thomas, Mary K VanGieson

Eyesolation: Seeing and Looking in Quarantine

The students of Art 260: Curation in Context worked remotely with Memphis-based artists to think about what art can do during quarantine. The result is a group of virtual exhibitions that help us see the landscape, the home, personal relationships, and our own bodies with the clarity and insight that only art and artists can offer. Exhibitions will premier here on Facebook throughout this week, and then be archived on our website.

Take a few minutes and look around. Have you really seen your surroundings? The place you’re in, the people, objects, pets around you? Time alone has required us to wonder: what are we looking at? And are we really seeing it? When people look at us through Facetime and Zoom, are they seeing us the same way as they would in person? How do we look at ourselves? How do we look at art? Do we see ourselves, or the art we look at? Looking meaning the sense of sight, and seeing meaning letting the things we look at to truly impact us, are different.

 Eyesolation: Seeing and Looking in Quarantine presents artworks by four Memphis artists, Melissa Dunn, Alexander Paulus, Emily C Thomas, and Mary K VanGieson. Their pieces come together to ask us new questions in this unfamiliar pandemic context. Through painting, sculpting, humor, storytelling these artists inspire seeing rather than looking, with deep attention to how we are changing the ways we use our eyes in quarantine. The sarcasm in Paulus’s figures and titles reveals that humor is often healthy, and VanGieson’s holds an omni-applicable downward gaze that requires viewers to wonder how we express emotion subconsciously. We can all look at these artworks, but actively seeing them gives the artists the agency to change us. Our worlds have shrunken physically, broadened technologically, and we have begun to rely on our eyes as a window into a world of communication. Eyesolation: Seeing and Looking in Quarantine demands us to be vulnerable with these artists, and start seeing when looking, at art, ourselves, and our sometimes scary and always changing world. 

Melissa Dunn’s studio is in her house in Memphis, TN, where she was born and has spent most of her life. She’s exhibits locally and regionally, and teaches drawing and painting at Flicker Street Studio. She regularly volunteers at Carpenter Art Garden, an afterschool art program in Binghampton, and was a founding member of the Artist Advisory Council at ArtsMemphis. She was recently chosen by the Urban Art Commission as a finalist for the Memphis International Airport Concourse B Project. 

Alexander Paulus, from Missouri, has been living in Memphis since 2007. He earned his MFA from the Memphis College of Art in 2009 and has been exhibited across the United States as well as in London, England. He currently is an Assistant Professor at Southwest Tennessee Community College, and has been published in Studio Visit Magazine, the South 2017 edition of New American Paintings, and more. 

Emily C. Thomas graduated from NYU’s Steinhardt School of Culture, Education, and Human Development with a BFA in 2009 and in 2015 received her MFA from the University of California Santa Barbara. Some of her awards include the Interdisciplinary Humanities Center (IHC) Visual, Performing and Media Arts Award, the Florimbi- Simon Award, and also a doctoral travel grant to the Middle East. Emily is from and is currently working in Memphis, TN. 

Mary K VanGieson lives and works in Memphis, TN as artist, educator, storyteller, and “sometime writer.” After receiving her BAE from Oklahoma State University, she completed her MFA at the University of Memphis. Among her artistic awards, she has received five teaching awards including Teacher of the Year in Shelby County twice. She has made many generous art donations and her work has been shown in New York, Nashville, and throughout Memphis, notably at the Dixon Gallery and Gardens.