Nancy Cheairs: New Paintings
I'll tell you how the sun rose, - A ribbon at a time. --Emily Dickinson
In mid-May David Lusk Gallery-Memphis debuts an exhibition of new paintings by Memphis artist Nancy Cheairs. Her subject matter for the show New Paintings is a blend of reality and fiction pulled from "fragments of remembered experience, reaching from childhood, to literature, to art history and architecture."
Using the landscape as a metaphor for the passage of time, Cheairs leads her viewer through each image with a connecting thread. Her references to Emily Dickinson's line "I'll tell you how the sun rose, - A ribbon at a time" speaks to a winding light, unraveling a journey of contemplation and discovery. Cheairs states, "My intention is to discover connections between imagination, spirit, history, and concrete reality, creating a vision of life that is alive with mystery."
Through a growing awareness of the human condition and universal experiences of suffering and joy Cheairs developed an interest in the Celtic concept of 'thin space'. The theologian Peter Gomes describes 'thin space' as a place, "where the visible and invisible world come into their closest proximity." In her painting The Green Mountains a mysterious path extends itself into a luminous sky, stretching upwards to the unknown, linking the worldly and spiritual, symbolizing in Gomes's words "the clearest communication between the temporal and eternal."
Cheairs's impeccably glazed and highly stylized compositions exist in a world of impresionist fairy tale. Her longtime commitment to a limited color palette has strengthened Cheairs's ability to find deeply personal and emotional colors. The work inNew Paintings is buoyant and full of light, depicting open and ethereal spaces, ripe with possibility and hope. In Rise Cheairs creates the subtle shift of day to night utilizing her signature jewel-like hues to mine the essence of transcendence and growth, inviting us to contemplate the passage of time.
Nancy Cheairs holds a BFA from Memphis College of Art and MFA from the University of Memphis. Her work is in numerous public and private collections across the country. She lives and works in Memphis, where she is Director of Flicker Street Studio, as she says, "a unique place for teaching, learning and creating."