Kerri McGill

On the Periphery, the Edge of Sight.... Curator's Note and the Artists! by Kerri McGill

On the Periphery, The Edge of Sight

Uforge Gallery

presents its first guest curated exhibit. Guest curator 

Kerri McGill

 pulls 12 artists from Boston’s wealth of skill and vision. These painters, sculptors and photographers play with that ephemeral line between our daily pedestrian existence and those realities that lie in the periphery and explore the politics of identity.

_______________________________

Curator's Note

We crave order and stability. When we focus on an object, a path, or a goal, we lose our peripheral vision. It’s a necessary blindness that assists concentration, and simultaneously deters us from a deeper understanding of matters.

Our internal structures and expectations help make categorical judgments in a split second. This fills our world with

dualities and personal mythologies.

The artist pays heed, sees deeply, and responds thoughtfully. The artist picks through layers of reality and identity with an awareness of how one informs the other.

This show challenges our ideas of chosen realities, how we define ourselves and how our environment, in turn, defines us

. The artwork creates a dynamic visual dialogue and a space that fosters expansive thought and encourages the viewer to re-inform active sight and self-definition.

~Kerri McGill, curator

The Artists

Ruth Rosner’s

powerful Totems greet you. These “guardians of the voiceless”, made of wire, plaster and found objects often aged and rusted, speak of identity through imbued power. “The source of their vulnerability is the source of their strength and power”.

Ivor Scott's

oils present the multiple realities of war, game and identity. Are you the person safe in the room playing a game or the dying soldier on the screen? Is the deconstructed “glitching”game-body enough visual information to recognize as a person?

Tricia Neumyer

also tackles ideas of war, game and chosen identity in her Pennsic War series. The truth of documentary style photographs balance fanciful costume and cardboard armatures. The graphic nature of uniforms and crests underscores the elements of design that simultaneously break up the human form into abstraction and decree a very specific identity.

Rebecca Rose Greene’s

paper sculptures bring the creature to the crest. It is the undeniable power of the beast that serves its function- the visual identity of a group, family or clan. The large bird attains a physical power and solid presence in spite of the delicate materials it’s made from.

While the Totem series of heft heavy metal beast heads from

Wolftits

have a spacious delicate quality, the metal line of the creature has the motion of a quick hand gesture, a doodle in spite of the metal it’s made of. The street-artist, Wolftits, himself, toys with the idea of identity. Is identity self proclaimed or bestowed by the environment in which one thrives?

C.D’Shoto

alters components of the identifiable “self” through disorienting environments and design. Her “people” are only identified as such by shape and a minimal detail, be it face or arm. She denies access to her subjects when she replaces the face with pattern.

Her environments offer little narrative help in defining the people within them.

Dinora Justice

uses the same elements of design for opposite means. Beautiful landscapes please us. Hers are beautiful but unfamiliar. She instills trees with individual personalities of their own through design. “Rather than representing or imitating nature, I paint the uncanny situation we are in - a world that flows in and out of states of recognition.”

Sasha Parfenova

also combines elements of the identifiable world with estranged environment in her collage works. At a distance, Sasha’s compositions have a peaceful dreamlike quality that turns darker as one looks closer. “

The fragility of nature is exposed. The consequences of human intervention and influences are undeniable.”

Rich Sepulveda

’s c

hildhood artifacts invite viewers to think on darker corners of our society and ourselves.

Horrific events on the news blend in w/weather and distort reality and empathy.

The combination of fantastical environments and the medium of photography offer a different type of reality.

“I hope that these images can be reminders that help reignite empathy for our human family.”

Pecan

brings in the humor of pop culture. Like Sepulveda, childhood objects are key players. Even in the warmth of nostalgia, Pecan changes the identity by placing them in environments beyond their reality. The images give the tiny toys the strength survive space and make our concrete structures into fragile things.

Ktron

packs her compositions tight with the bounty of life to a point of anxiety. The amount of life beyond our daily reality is dense, unified and grand. Man is an observer or a voyeur? “

Things lurk within the landscapes around us. There is so much more than meets the eye.  The world is filled with creatures that you only notice if you look hard enough.”

Kerri McGill’s

map collages connect the grids and highways of torn maps as the underpinnings of invented lands. These images are metaphors for our thought process. We force new information into familiar old patterns; maps that may not match up with the actual landscape. The environment is continually redefined by the person who encounters it.

Dream by Kerri McGill

Your dream is bold and clear. The path is obvious. Maybe it includes a timeline. As you proceed forward with determination and optimism, unforeseen aspects of life make the path less straightforward. Other realities come to light and the goal is far less attainable than when first conceived. In fact, you have to put your dream away for a small while and attend to other matters. It will only be a short while…

Time slips by. A break turns into a hiatus. When there is finally an opportunity to return to the dream, you are not the same person, your life is a different place and even the dream looks different.  Will you rework it or leave it behind?

Dream (painting)
This painting is in response to a dream that came true. Painted as an anchor piece for a body of work to be created in a Buenos Aires art residency. It explores ideas of anticipation, imagination and reality. This piece will endure the physical tribulations that often occur philosophically to a dream.

The painting came about so quickly it felt reactionary. I didn’t think twice about size or color. It was clear and bold. It was like making something that I had memorized plans to… I guess it wasn’t supposed to fit through a door.

I pack the piece up and travel through Patagonia. In Buenos Aires,  I plan to use the blemishes of travel and rework “reality” into this “Dream”. The residency vetoes my project. This hefty beast I’d been lugging through South America is now a mute thing. It stays packed up. I create a very different project.

It remains packed away tight for two more years. The creases and folds have a life of their own.  I don’t have the proper stretcher bars and the damn thing wouldn’t fit out the door if I did anyway.


I miss it though. And here is the day I pull it off the shelf, fuss with wrinkles, folds and crush marks, put it back on the wall and reexamine this Dream.

Maps, Landscapes, and your Bossy Brain by Kerri McGill

The Map became a key player in my life last year. I traveled to the opposite side of the world and back and even at home, my jobs and living spaces changed frequently. The image I spend most of my time examining is not a masterpiece with a complex and subtle brush strokes..It is a simple graph overlaid with flat color and unwavering line quality.

I've never experienced such colossal space as in Patagonia. Any sense of space, scale or time is usurped by a landscape that reinvents itself at every turn. Mountains, glaciers, cliffs, tundras, waterfalls, forests appear out of nowhere and disappear just as quickly like ghosts...


In Buenos Aires, I cling to maps. On the bus I watch for landmarks, memorize street names and count the jogs in the grid which deviate into webs of confusion.

They say memory is an emotional process...
In my fear of traveling without grasp of language, the map became life guidance, the one sure thing to guide me through the confusion of the city and navigate my personal turmoil. The grid holds strong.


A year of constant motion and map gazing begs the question –

How do I convey space, time and the effects our environment has on us? 
How has my past affected how I view the new environments I find myself in?

One of the fundamental functions of our brain is mapping our location: where we came from, where we are, and how many ways there are to get to the next place. Another key action, our brains continually search for familiar patterns, even in the middle of the unknown.  Actually, our brains are not great at taking in new information. They much prefer to imprint expectations based on past knowledge.  The brain tries very hard to transform new things into what is familiar.

Maybe this lends to the magic in Patagonia..
I had nothing to compare it to. I was in continual awe. 

My life in New England created an internal map that is my basis for organizing and understanding any other Space I inhabit...even if it is completely different. 



I am in search of a visual vocabulary. These new works use the map as a starting point and play with the idea of how we use past knowledge to organize what lies before us.

Work from Buenos Aires Art Residency by Kerri McGill

LPEP Art Residency

Buenos Aires is a powerful and passionate city. The layers of history weave a fabric of paradox as each generation past speaks as loudly as the bands playing the street corner today. European architecture and statues loom by contemporary street art. Tango and intricate sign painting are unique to the city. Music from protest chants to carnival drums fills all corners. I live by the tattered scraps of map in my pocket.

How will I make a sincere body of work about such a massive and complex place in only a few weeks? 

I pull materials from the street to talk about those very streets: plaster, cardboard, paint, billboard advertisements...

I lay down an image, cover it with plaster and a second image.  I break through the first.. It’s a physically literal extension of the potent layers of BA

Each piece is a humble response to the different realities in the evolving landscape of the labyrinth that is BA.I sample protest chanting, drumming, Carnival bands, and the president’s address.  This becomes the soundscape for the show.

Because of size and mixed media such as plaster, many works staid behind. The piece exhibited here was sliced into pieces for traveling.  The disjointed pieces lend a sense of distress and disjointedness appropriate for the theme.

There is a heartbreak in leaving my artwork behind. The loss becomes a conceptual layer…As it comes from the city streets to speak about the city, so too may it return to the streets.

As I held on so tightly to a little ripped gray map with one hand,
I had to let go of my own artwork with the other.

Art Residency: Buenos Aires by Kerri McGill


I've made a monstrous miscalculation, an enormous error in judgement...

As dreams are clean streamlined versions of reality, my dream of travel in Arg leaves a hefty something out. That something is the city, itself.

After years of working in city spaces, the idea of traveling the Goliath space of Patagonia followed by making art seemed complete. Buenos Aires, the spot to contemplate ideas of time and space in cities vs natural setting: sitting in a quiet cafe reading and sketching, working in a studio, trading ideas w/other artists... A satisfying plan.

As the plane circles BA to land, my heart sinks a little. The city reaches as far as the eye can see without break or deviation. The city is All. My plan does not take into account the shear power charisma and magnitude of this city, this city, unknown to me. Of course I mean to explore this city. I just had no idea how much city there is!

The taxi driver grimaces when I tell him the address. It's a good drive away from the city center. Paternal is a working class neighborhood. The Main Street is lined w/kiosks(bodegas) fruit stands, and the type if stores you'd find on the edge of Chinatown. The sidewalks are broken. There is construction everywhere. Construction looks like holes in the dirt. 

The residency is a homey apartment with 3 bedrooms, 2 cats and a studio space. There is a roof deck and a small apartment where's he organizer,  Frank, lives. 

When I speak about my project idea. The reaction: it would be good if you make work about Buenos Aires.

Of course. This makes sense. But my Lord I just got here! Have you seen the size if this city? How do I approach an unexpected unknown subject and make honest work? Even if I use Patagonia as a point if departure, I fear coming off as the typical tourist. How can I know this city well enough to make a sincere comment?

Things become more complex...
The rain storms of the first two weeks hold me captive. This is not weather, this is a beast that shakes the walls and infiltrates the house. All of the cracked sidewalks and dirt-hole construction turn walkways into mud.  Storms own the mornings and often appear from nowhere in the afternoon. When I say there are sheets of rain, I refer more to sheets of plywood and less to sheets of Egyptian cotton. The weather fluctuates from cold rains to debilitating heat and humidity, and the rain in the evening is dealer's choice. This is not conducive to exploring.

In packing, I have only hiking boots or sandals. My sandals rub the skin off my feet, give me blisters and disintegrate in the mud bathed walks within a week. A hunt for shoes takes up more time than I'd like. It's hard to find something between a $10Flipflops and $180 Nikes. I get lost easily. My, first day I trek  along Warnes Ave- an unending avenue full of auto body shops with unending piles of motors and parts. I cannot explain what it is that makes this greasy street enchanting in some way.


A window in the rain allows me, bandaged feet an all, to get to a few of the museums, artisan markets and cafés.  I spend so much time avoiding sidewalk hazards, I often miss the details of architecture that fill the city with magic.  But the street art stands out at every corner.


In my favor I came armed w/George's Luis Borges Ficciones. When I had enough of fighting the city storms, I hide in a cafe and read. I had enough for thought to know his work is full of possibilities, a connection factor. His stories are full of labyrinths, double realities, twisted time space. He might as well be a quantum physicist. 

Time moves quickly. There is still much to see.  Between thoughts of Patagonia, the depths of BA, and the cpmplexity of Borges.. I am overflowing w/thought. How to pear down and focus... I still need shoes.






ADVENTURE: ARGENTINA by Kerri McGill

My Art Residency asked for a project.  I didn't really have a solid thought when I applied.  As I went through older paintings, one image stood out...and I ran with it.  It's a great image and a universal concept:
The line between the imagined and reality

On a large piece of muslin I paint the imagined South America with colors and shapes made out of dreams. The 10x9' muslin will be folded tight to the size of a small pillow 9x10", folded like a map and crushed into my backpack. It will stay with me as I travel through Argentina. It will be used as a pillow for the physical element of sleep and dreams. The painting becomes an art object, a map, a dream catcher of sorts. It will be altered, maybe damaged, as dreams are...it will change shape, maybe loose color, paint may chip or stick. Maybe it gets torn, left behind or stolen!

I arrive in January, meet with Andres in Satiago, friend's will remember Andres' Story .  Santiago is home to Pablo Neruda, a huge influence of mine.  We will travel to Padagonia from there.  As we travel, I will sketch the real Arg, real colors shapes experiences...Will it be bold and dramatic like my imagined landscape, or will they resemble my familiar sketches of NY's subways and Boston's cafés?

In Feb I arrive at LPEP for a month as artist in residence. I will pull out the large drop, check it for physical damage....Has the dream staid intact? I will compare the sketches and the dream piece ..

Installation- large drop (imagined) vs small sketches (reality)

Pablo Neruda series, XII of 20 Love Poems by Kerri McGill

XII

Your breast is enough for my heart,
and my wings for your freedom.
What was sleeping above your soul will rise
out of my mouth to heaven.

IN you is the illusion of each day.
You arrive like the dew to the cupped flowers.
You undermine the horizon with your absence.
Eternally in flight like the wave.

I have said that you sang in the wind
like the pines and like the masts.
Like them you are tall and taciturn,
and you are sad, all at once, like a voyage.

You gather things to you like an old road.
You are peopled with echoes and nostalgic voices.
I awoke and at times birds fled and migrated
that had been sleeping in your soul.

Pablo Neruda


Little Red Ridinghood by Kerri McGill


I have an interdisciplinary partner in crime.  Every artist needs a good musician or scientist, or philosopher friend.  My musical friend has the voice of an angle and the schedule of a working mom.  In between teaching voice, performing, running a small business and taking care of two kids, she directs the occasional small opera geared towards kids.

Last year it was the operatic version of the Three Pigs (to Mozart, mind you).  She wanted to keep it simple...a doorframe that can switch from brick to stick to straw, a chimney, some signage ("Francis Bacon University"), and a pig statue... a "Smart" pig statue.
Piggy Project Details


This year it's Little Red Ridinghood, the opera.  I'm relieved to the Sound of Music is finished and we can borrow a tree or two.  Adding to an existing set takes the pressure off building.  As much as I would like to have a bit of carpenter in me, I am a 2D person at heart.  We confiscate some Sound of Music scenery and amp it up for an opera version of Little Red Ridinghood.  Trees must become forest, with critters and birds, and Red needs a strawberry patch.

I love an excuse to paint on the ground! I finally have the space too!  This project wouldn't have worked in my old studio spaces...One was a basement and the other a closet.







This is a great turn from my last job.  As a set painter for movies, you can't say too much until a movie is released.. but I'm sure it won't hurt anyone to say I was shoveling snow off an ark outdoors in Long Island before the sun rose.

The warmth of bright little sets for a kid's opera feels pretty damn good.

A WORD is Worth Thousand Paintings...Saudade and other untranslatable words by Kerri McGill

My posts to this point focus on images.  Today I write about the word.  


We rely on language for all transactions, emotional, business and everything inbetween.   Written or spoken, the word can fall short sometimes.  Delve into something beyond banter, something below the surface of social interaction to emotions deeper felt, those driving forces of our daily actions.... This is when verbal communication lacks the accuracy to articulate emotion.  This is when the artist (visual or audial) reaffirms a hold on a deeper type of communication.

This thought is indebted to another's search, posted publicly:

I've been hunting down this word for years... And it's finally in my grasp. This is a perfect word for how this reality makes me feel most of the time:
Saudade
(The definition is mostly from Wikipedia)
Saudade is a Portuguese word that has no translation in English.  Saudade describes a deep emotional state of nostalgic longing/yearning for an absent something or someone that one loves, often one whose whereabouts are unknown, a lost lover or a family member gone missing.  It carries a repressed knowledge that the object of longing will never return. 
Saudade describes "the love that remains" after someone is gone. Saudade is the recollection of feelings, experiences, places or events that once brought excitement, pleasure, well-being, which now triggers the senses and makes one live again. It can be described as an emptiness, like someone or something should be there in a particular moment is missing, and the individual feels this absence.  One can have 'saudade' of someone whom one is with, feeling a loss towards the past or the future (e.g. unrealized/unfulfilled expectations).  While saudade conveys longing for a past that can never return as well as a future that will never happen, acceptance of the reality is also built into the word.  It embodies all that is positive of a time or feeling that is no longer, while deeply acknowledging the sadness of this truth.
In Brazil, the day of saudade is officially celebrated on January 30...
(I admit I am most curious about this holiday of heartache.)

Communication is a tricky game.  Similar background provides us with the same set of words that we combine in different formations and toss back and forth to each other.  We agree on meanings for all of these words, though different interpretations are inevitable.  There are times we search for just the right word.  Sometimes we never find that word.  It may not exist in our native language.  

A list of 20 untranslatable words gives more examples of things missing from our English.
(I really love #2 as well - Mamihlapinatapei)


The continual hunt is a constant for any artist.  They say the painter paints the same painting his whole life.  Like searching for the right word to convey the thought, the artist searches color, composition and subject to find the most powerful presentation of the idea.

The idea behind this one word, Saudade, is the source of hundreds of artist.  Hopper comes to mind quickest.

A painting may be worth a million words, 
but you can make a million paintings from the seed of one word... the right word.


Gift Given, Gift Received by Kerri McGill


The Blind Drink, the Seeing Hold Sky
The Gift
A recurring theme in my images is The GIFT... most plainly expressed in the Vessel series.  It took me a while to see the recurring part until my dear friend and artist, Soapheap Pich, moved back to Cambodia.  His last painted works are a Sacred Vessels series.

His idea of the vessel stays with me, Greek burials, alms bowls, the Grail.  I revisit my flower sketches.  I notice how my people clutch things, like the potted orchid in my "Gift".   The idea is already there... It's in the damn title for Christ's sake!

I ran with it.  I veer from flower paintings in favor of the pots and bowls that hold them.  Oranges are a traditional gift, for Buddha, Chinese dragons, good children, monks, and travelers.  Many of the images have a perspective that flattens out.  This is something I love in 4x5 photography, changing the plane of the negative.  It stays with me in painting still.  I love qualities of the two dimensional.

One Gives, One Recieves
Receive a Gift with Grace
A gift...Give and receive, the action between empty and full embody these images.  Release something to another and make room for something new.  The physical action: one extends something into the personal space of another, one takes something in allowing another's action to impact them.  We are in flux.  Every moment we have something to offer another and we are in desperate need of something just out of our reach.

There is vulnerability in needing.  It is a harrowing terrifying humbling place to be. Even in deepest moments of need, we are so full there is always something to offer, to give to another.





Evolution of Studio Space by Kerri McGill



Establishing a studio space after college means something at home.  To make art between the waitress shifts, art shows, and general mayhem of daily life on no budget, my home needs some type of extra corner, just an extra something... and low and behold, I come across an apartment with a walk-in closet.


The closet is cozy to say the least.  A fan is always on so the oil fumes don't make it into m bedroom.  I have to step back into my bedroom to look at my paintings...But if Weegee used the trunk of his car for a darkroom, then I have no worries. (more details in "Artist in the Closet" post)                                                    


So the roof fell in and I fell into a beautiful new apartment with room in the basement for a studio space.  It's so much larger!  I was excited... So  excited I gave it a good cleaning, a special "anti-moisture" paint job and spent the next two years rearranging things.    It never quite took off. 

I thought I was just being spoiled, wanting some kind of natural light...I mean if Monet can have a boat studio, why can't I have a basement studio?

It turns out, general consensus says basements are challenging studio spaces.  Apparently dark and dank is tougher than wind and waves.


On a random day filled with random tasks, I drive down an unfrequented street.  There is a huge brick building, door propped open with a small handwritten sign: "studio sale".  I stop for yard sales, tag sales and church bake sales.  This fits right in... I use the opportunity to ask about renting studio space... "..two year waiting list..maybe try your luck posting on the bulletin board.." 

I did.  Just as I poked the thumbtack in, a voice from a man trotting down the stairs- "Hey what are you doing? Are you looking for space?.. This door shouldn't be open.." and he pulls the wedge. 
The door locks shut. 

 But I am already in. 

Now I have a beautiful sunny spot at 6 Vernon Street Studios in Somerville...Let the painting begin.

Sketches to Paintings by Kerri McGill

Sketches come from bold, reactive play with simple carved form into the oils with charcoal fast and dirty. The palette is less complex than the painting. But don't kid yourself, I can fuss for days on the sketches too. I never know when my next studio time will be. Some of the sketches are precious to me and wait for years before a more substantial object is made.

Sometimes the painting is a close reinterpretation. Hummingbird Girl sketch and "Hummingbird Halo" have many of the same elements. The palette and lighting are deeper. The hummingbirds achieve a different spatial tension and movement. The painting also introduces a woman with smudged lipstick. It's a small detail. The little details are gifts to the viewer who keeps looking. It broadens the story.

Other times the essence of the sketch sketch evolves dramatically. "Eaglehandler" portrays a very plain girl with an enormous, rather well behaved, eagle on her ungloved hand. The sketch does not have the visual tension of the actual scenario.Eagles are big raptors that should not perch on anyone's hand unaided.

The following painting, "The Facilitator", creates a more engaging situation and the title adds nicely too. The woman is more refined, the eagle, more raptorous. Adding the titmouse in her right hand would be trite if I kept the eagle's original stance from the sketch. It would have been titled "food chain". Eye contact is skewed between the main players, so motives remain veiled.



The talon to bare hand reveals the nature of the relationship between woman and eagle. In the sketch, it is also the weakest point...It's a mush of charcoal and pretend. The painting shows less mush and more pretend.

In the works.. by Kerri McGill

The back is key--It must show tension and strength without being over-defined or "muscly". The back must portray the emotion, give as strong a visual cue as the face...so the hair is short. In combination with the passive hand, the message is mixed. I'm still working the nuances. Then, back to the herons...

The subject is Eve. I didn't know it when I started the painting. It was just some odd idea of a nude woman surrounded by herons. I liked the ambiguity. It was a little too ambiguous - so I set it aside for awhile. During its quiet time, I finished many other paintings, including "Exiting Eden". The man's back faces us, shoulders rounded, as if he just heaved a heavy sigh, or got the wind knocked out of him. The emotion is in the posture. I didn't know it was Adam until I had to give it a title.

The seed for this painting is a little note I wrote many years ago... "Where does a good man go in the face of a gathering storm?"..but I don't feel like going into that when someone asks what the painting's about.. Both painting and note work well with the biblical themes. I like to think the Bible's first couple were good people. Good people make crummy decisions sometimes...sometimes it happens when they think they're trying their hardest.

"Exiting Eden" brings me back to the Girl with Herons with a new understanding of the dynamics of the image. She cannot be languid, the birds too romantic. The posture is the expression of a greater story... Almost the opposite of the "saint" series, which are all about the serene face.

In the works... by Kerri McGill

Here's a painting that's been lurking in the studio for a while. The image shows a group of herons surrounding a nude woman in the soft light of dawn. It is part of the "Exiting Eden" series.

The first incarnation, on the left, has "morning colors" that are almost too soft... It seems too fluffy and romantic for the theme.

So I visited the other extreme with harsh lines, muted color, and high contrast...that's the disaster on the right side.




Going from one extreme to another leads to a beautiful in between. Scrubbing out layers, re introducing line, and reshaping form, all bring movement into the composition and reveal the character of the medium... The paint has probably set enough for me to dive back in now...

TUESDAY NIGHT, 7-10 by Kerri McGill

I have more interesting things to write about than openings, but my beloved day-job as a scenic painter is keeping me very busy.
And, with Diesel Cafe hosting my paintings through September, my walls are strangely naked. I've started to spackle and paint my apartment, one naked room at a time.

Please come visit me...

OPENING: Tuesday, Aug. 25th, 7-10, 27 Elm Street, Davis Square, Somerville MA 02143
http://www.diesel-cafe.com/


It's great to show all of the work in one space. I'll bring my latest sketches too, if they're dry.

Why art... by Kerri McGill

One question that haunts the painter is, "Why?"...Why the effort, the allocation of money, and energy? It is the question that leaves every art student speechless and every professional stammering about feelings. Every once in a while I take a break from the studio and tackle the question.

What type of vocation is this, an artist? No structure, save the restrictions of the medium and the voice in your head that says “Stop, before you ruin it!” There is certainly no financial security. Making art is scary. The artist creates in pursuit of the perfect translation of information, from the intellect to the physical. There is only the drive to reinterpret life.

There are the life basics: food, shelter, reproduction. This is survival. For most animals, motion deals strictly with acts of survival. For the human animal the drive to create products outside of a given natural environment seems both unnatural and human at the same time. This strange use of energy defines the quality of life, how one survives and grows. The artist observes the existing structure with a critical mind, internalizes the experience, personalizes the idea with an individual voice. The input transforms into the idea. The idea evolves into a plan. The plan sets the cue for motion. The motion results in the creation of a product.

The product is a visual constant with an emotional trigger. Art introduces emotions, ideas, and experiences that open up new paths in ways of thinking. Visual experiences create a space for emotional and intellectual research and reevaluation of hypothetical experiences.

As an artist, I am not a natural. With each painting comes more experience with the medium and new visual possibilities. The new possibilities make a beginner of me all over again. A successful image needs balance between message and medium, familiarity and ambiguity. This balance allows my voice and the viewer’s own interpretation to be equally valid. The figurative nature of my work makes it accessible. Subjects such as birds and flowers are traditional visual symbols. Where subjects portray ambiguity, a figure looks away, the medium gives direction. The character of the charcoal and the color of the oils offer a distinct voice and tone.

Part researcher, part storyteller, I offer my personal vision to the community. The work does not demand a one-sided spotlight, but invites the viewer into an intimate exchange of ideas. The work invokes participation and interpretation. It is a dynamic visual dialog. This is a special type of social interaction, one that looks for immediate emotional and intellectual response.

Emotion controls attention. Attention controls sight. Sight controls movement and action. Every action is proceeded by motivation, a plan. Every action brings one into a new environment. Every environment induces a flurry of thought, recall, mapping, and adjustment. Art provides a stimulus different from those in the natural environment of survival. Art invokes social interaction different from the interactions of basic survival. If emotion drives our thought process, art brings it full circle. Art is not a decoration. Art is the equipment that aids our evolution and provides a higher quality of life.


Avalanche Phoenix by Kerri McGill



Anyone who does any type of business with me knows that I will not take calls on a good beach day. I owe any shred of sanity to quiet beach days alone. Friends know to invite themselves only if they can wake up early enough. I don't wait around.

My winter sanity, however, became an issue until snowboarding saved the day! Even in July I like to slip back into winter memories of snowboarding. Maybe because I've only eeked in two beach days so far(and one of those days involved a hoody and pants.)

Core77's competition for snowboard designs didn't help. This is my design submission. The phoenix is a great beast, a bird that incorporates themes of death and rebirth from fire and ash. This design takes the idea of the phoenix and replaces fire with snow and ice... the avalanche phoenix.

The most important part of the design is that it works in both directions. If the rider has the bird in front, it seems that the bird is diving down the mountain, or better yet, flying off the the half-pipe. If the more abstract avalanche side of the board is the front, the powder kicked up will meld with the nose and it will look like the phoenix is actually breaking free from the snowy mountain.

This design is a bit of a tribute to those who have been taken by avalanches. It is not anything I could even imagine.

Pablo Neruda Series, Ode with a Lament by Kerri McGill

Ode with a Lament
Oh girl among the roses, oh pressure of doves,
oh prison of fish and rosebushes,
your soul is a bottle filled with thirsty salt
and your skin a bell full of grapes.

Unfortunately I have nothing to give you save fingernails
or eyelashes, or melted pianos,
or dreams that spring gushing from my heart,
dusty dreams that run like black horsemen,

dreams filled with velocities and misfortunes. I can only love you with kisses and poppies, with garlands wet from the rain, looking at ashy horses and yellow dogs,
I can only love you with waves at my back,
between vague hits of sulfur and distracted waters,
swimming against the graveyards that flow in certain rivers
with wet grass growing over the sad plaster tombs,
swimming by submerged hearts
and pale registration lists of unburied children.

There is much death, many funereal events
in my forsaken passions and desolate kisses,
there is the water that falls on my head
while my skin grows,
a water like time, a black unchained water,
with a nocturnal voice, with the cry
of a bird in the rain, with an interminable

shadow of wet wing that protects my bones:
while I watch myself, while
interminably I look at myself in the mirrors and in the windows,
I hear someone following me, calling to me with sobs
with a sad voice rotted by time.

You stand over the earth, full

of teeth and lightning bolts.
You spread the kisses and kill the ants.
You weep of health, of onion, of bee,
of burning alphabet.
You are like a blue and green sword,
and you undulate at the touch, like a river.

Come to my soul dressed in white, with a branch
of bloody roses and cups of ashes,
come with an apple and a horse,
because there is a dark room and a broken candelabra,
some crooked chairs that wait for winter,
and a dead dove, with a number.
Pablo Neruda

Fenway by Kerri McGill

I was having a "Nancy Drew" Moment as I began my Fenway story. Truthfully, I'm more apt to have Columbo moments. Check all your pockets one more time and the final clue appears, mystery solved, nice and easy.

This ending couldn't be any easier. The culprit bypasses any direction from the art pick up area by leaning over the counter and demanding the paintings. In a well dressed well behaved crowd of lawyers, artists, and government officials, who thinks twice?

I certainly didn't think twice about leaning over the counter and demanding my paintings because I wanted to leave and get tacos. .. That's right, I am the culprit...
I didn't think twice about leaving without checking on the bidding status of anything. I had seen maybe three bids on a room of over eighty items. I knew art sales were low in all of the past year's auctions. It was general knowledge that noone is buying art these days, and my price tag was a bit higher than some of theother work. And because I had spent my night roaming the ballpark instead of networking and paying attention to the event like a good little artist, the event coordinator almost had a heart-attack when she could not produce the painting for the most gracious couple who bid on it.

Mystery at Fenway Park! by Kerri McGill

It is a gray and foggy night in Boston's Ballpark. The city skyline is barely visible from the third base line. The Red Sox are happy to be on an away game. Inside the old 500 Club is another story... music, fancy dresses, art and memorabilia from wall to wall and martinis in plastic cups...It is the auction for the Arts&Business Council.

It is a perfect opportunity to network, sell paintings, and promote the importance of fine art in the Boston community. I do none of these things. I am tired. My week began on Saturday and filled itself with 10, 12, and 15 hour days of movie set painting (glorified house painting). You can take the girl out of the paint, but sometimes you can't get the paint out of her hair, even for the most prestigious events.

I grab my plastic cup martini and my cohort for the evening and dash off to the Green Monster to take pictures of the beautiful misty park. We romp around the park testing security.(It was very tight.)

While we run about the park, a couple visiting from Michigan scour each piece for something special. They make the rounds quite a few times and continually return to one painting. They read every word of every bio. They compare and still return to the one piece. They make a bid. And because as many art auctions, there are few bidders, they win the piece at a good price. It is my piece. And at the end of the evening, confident in their purchase, they go to claim the new prize, only to find the work is gone and missing!

At the end of the night all of the artwork goes to the bubble-wrap station. There is a strict procedure before releasing the artwork....How could the paintings have been taken?

The culprit walks free into the night unnoticed, puts the paintings in the trunk and is off.

On my way to the car after post show tacos and beer, I notice a message from the show coordinator in her very French accent," We don't know where your paintings are! They have been stolen and sold!" I don't understand, maybe it's the the accent...
To be continued...