DOTHAN, Alabama – January 9, 2020 – The Wiregrass Museum of Art (WMA) is pleased to announce it will feature work from two Alabama artists during its winter quarter of exhibitions. Jenny Fine’s Synchronized Swimmers and Beverly West Leach’s Telling on Myself are set to open on January 16 at Art After Hours (5:30-8 p.m.) and will both feature exhibition-related programming. WMA’s commitment to exhibiting the work of artists from the state continues with Fine and Leach, both of whom the museum has worked with in the past.
“Our exhibiting artists this quarter are based in the Wiregrass, illustrating WMA’s commitment not only to regional, national, and international artists, but also our support of local artists and in building a contemporary culture around the arts,” said Dana-Marie Lemmer, WMA’s executive director and curator.
“What’s exciting about supporting artists like Jenny Fine and Beverly West Leach in the creation of new work is that we get to follow along with their careers, providing future opportunities, whether that’s launching new work in our space or through public programming. Our community benefits from that as well; we’re creating experiences that are unique to this area and that won’t be seen in the same way again,” said Lemmer.
Jenny Fine, Seashells by the Seashore, 2019, Photography
Jenny Fine is a visual artist and professor currently living and working in Enterprise, Alabama. Rooted in the photographic form, Fine’s practice employs time as material in an exploration of both personal and cultural memory, identity, and our shifting relationship to the photograph in our digital, image-saturated age.
In “Synchronized Swimmers,” Fine explores her personal narrative and identity through the imagery of water, from memories of swimming in her grandmother’s backyard pool to the ocean floor, and the real and mythical creatures that reside there.
Fine has been developing the idea for this body of work for over a decade and has spent the last year bringing it to life. It builds on themes first present in exhibitions and performances presented at WMA, including 2015’s Flat Granny and Me: A Procession in My Mind and 2017’s In Unison.
“It’s been great to work with WMA as a space for experimentation. This dedicated staff has allowed me the very rare opportunity to work over an extended period of time to build this exhibition. Many of the components have been made in my studio, but it has not existed as one piece until now and the ability to make something and release it to the public to embody is something I can’t plan,” said Fine.
In WMA’s Main Gallery, guests will wander through an imagined re-creation of the swimming pool, with lighting, sound, and life-sized photographs of people dipping into the water to give a fully immersive experience. As people wander deeper into the gallery, they will enter an ocean environment and encounter performers costumed as oysters, clams, fish, mermaids, and sirens.
“I’m negotiating the idea and the dream with what’s actually possible in the space. Even I don’t know what awaits us. It’s a collaborative process, because people are embodying the memory-scape and will bring their own experiences to the piece. Inviting others into the work opens up my understanding and will make its way into the evolution of the project,” said Fine.
After its run at WMA, the exhibition will travel to Alabama Contemporary Art Center (Mobile, Ala.), Alabama School of Fine Arts (Birmingham, Ala,), and Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art (Winston-Salem, NC), among others, and will evolve at each stop, beginning to explore larger themes that deal with our material culture, roles and expectations of women in society, and issues of race.
Synchronized Swimmers has been made possible by grants from the Alabama State Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts.
Beverly West Leach, Altarpiece for Rachel and Mrs. Barnes, 2018, Found objects, acrylic paint, glue, collaged images
Beverly West Leach has been a professional artist for 34 years and her work has been exhibited throughout the United States in juried exhibitions and in solo and group shows. Leach received a BFA from the Columbus College of Art and Design in Columbus, Ohio, and an MFA from the Pennsylvania State University in State College, Pennsylvania. Her work is also part of several corporate collections and The Baltimore Museum of Art Prints and Drawings Collection.
Like Jenny Fine, Leach relies heavily on memory in Telling on Myself, using eclectic found objects, collage, painting, and other sculptural techniques to capture sensations, impressions and moments of thought through the juxtaposition of a variety of materials, colors, textures and forms. The work incorporates a personal iconography of physical objects, paper ephemera and photography — each piece telling its own story. Leach has collected objects that symbolize such things as her childhood in upstate New York, her parents, and her experience living and working in Alabama for more than a decade, assembling them into works with a distinctive narrative.
“Our memories are stored in the manner of a collage rather than through single literal images. Much of this body of work draws upon memories of childhood, experiences as a female and the feeling of not quite fitting into the places we end up. With my work I am fixing memories, the process allows me to explore my interior world,” said Leach.
Leach has exhibited her work at WMA in the past, notably during a whimsical exhibition that featured things she had seen at Dothan’s famed Sadie’s Flea Market. During the run of Telling on Myself, museum guests will have the chance to learn more about the artist, who is also a prolific traveler and avid beekeeper, through exhibition programming.
“For me, the opportunity to have my exhibition up for six months offers me time as an artist to work more with the community through various programs, an artist talk and a workshop, and to have more public engagement around the work,” said Leach.
Art After Hours is held quarterly at the Wiregrass Museum of Art as part of the museum’s Third Thursday schedule. The winter event will take place on Thursday, January 16, beginning at 5:30 p.m. Light snacks will be served and drinks will be available for purchase.
Admission is free for members and $5 for non-members. Memberships to the Wiregrass Museum of Art can be purchased online at WMA’s website and in person at the museum, including half-price yearly memberships, which are available at the door during all Third Thursday events at WMA.
After opening on the evening of January 16, “Synchronized Swimmers” will run from January 17 through February 22. “Telling on Myself” will remain on display through June 27.
Exhibition programming for Synchronized Swimmers
February 22 – Closing Performance (10-11 a.m.)
Exhibition programming for Telling on Myself
June 18 – Artist Talk (6-7 p.m.)
Additional information about programming can be found at the links provided and at wiregrassmuseum.org.
About the Wiregrass Museum of Art
The Wiregrass Museum of Art inspires a lifelong appreciation for the visual arts by providing innovative educational programs that engage diverse audiences through the collection and exhibition of quality works. Since its founding in 1988, WMA has offered educational programs, nationally acclaimed art exhibitions, and community events throughout the year. Its Board of Trustees guides the long-term vision and strategic goals, while its membership, City and County support, and grant funding provide the resources needed to fulfill its mission.
WMA’s galleries are open to the public every Wednesday through Friday from 10 a.m. until 5 p.m. and Saturdays from 10 a.m. until 3 p.m. General admission is always free. Private tours with guided art activities in the studio can be arranged by appointment on Mondays and Tuesdays. For tour information, visit wiregrassmuseum.org/museum-tours.
Additional images of artwork available upon request.
Header image: Jenny Fine, When We Were Synchronized Swimmers, 2010/2018, Hand-colored archival pigment print
Communications Manager, WMA
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