SECOND LIFE, THIRD LIFE
Clough-Hanson Gallery (Rhodes College) / 2000 North Pkwy May 11 - July 31st
Meredith Potter, Melissa Wilkinson, Emily C. Thomas
Second Life, Third Life
Curated by Roland Donnelly-Bullington
The COVID-19 crisis has brought many lives into an increasingly digital space. Zoom meetings, grocery pick-up, and, well, online art exhibitions are the new normal, for the time being. If the United States is successful in flattening the curve, the days of quarantine and shelter-in-place orders may expire, but what will we take from this time into that new world? Will it be the comfort of teleconferencing or the ache for meaningful connection in shared physical space? Both? Something else?
This exhibition highlights the work of three artists whose pre-coronavirus works center around that anxiety about the world we will make. Meredith Potter’s “Invisible Monsters” series emphasizes a fragmented reality as seen through the curated lens of social media. Melissa Wilkinson similarly explores the themes of the fractured and hyper-consuming gaze created by an image-abundant culture as it interacts with queer identity formation. Emily C. Thomas’s work finds a spiritual impulse in our technoculture, but a suspicious spirituality at that. Virtual reality revolutions have been anticipated before – once upon a time, we were all supposed to be in meetings through the online role-playing game/virtual meet-space Second Life, or the many similar platforms that allowed users to digitally gather. But our virtual work-from-home landscape looks much more boring than our hulking purple-skinned avatar and much more like work did before we took it home. The works by these three artists may not make predictions for where we go from here, but they have a stake in how we get there.
Melissa Wilkinson received her BFA in painting from Western Illinois University in 2002 and her MFA in painting from Southern Illinois University in 2006. Her work has been featured in publications throughout the country. She has shown in galleries nationally and internationally. She serves as Associate Professor of Art-Painting at Arkansas State University in Jonesboro. She lives in the Memphis TN area. Her work can be found at www.melissawilkinson.net
Emily C. Thomas received her BFA from the Steinhardt School at New York University and her MFA from the University of California Santa Barbara. She has shown her work locally and internationally, and was a recipient of the 2018 Crosstown Arts residency. She has taught in the Department of Art at UC Santa Barbara. She is based in Memphis. Her work can be found at www.emilycthomas.com
Meredith Potter is a mixed media artist living and working in Memphis, TN. She received her BFA in Painting and Drawing from Memphis College of Art in 2019.Her work is primarily focused on techniques involving photo transfers and digital manipulation. Pulling from her own life experiences, her work explores distorted realities that people create using social media and the mental constructs surrounding individuals. Her work can be found on Instagram: @_meredith_potter