Opening: Friday, Sept. 22, 6:00-8:00 p.m.
On View: Sept. 22-Nov. 10
CURATOR’S STATEMENT FROM KYLE BUTLER
Aside from the visual commonalities between the work of Paul Chandler, Lennette Crouch, and Avalene Musik, there is an underlying intrigue stemming from the differing way in which each artist comes upon those commonalities.
Paul Chandler espouses a focus on diversity in process, which implies, in turn, a thematic focus on societal diversity. The mixed-media aspect of his work acts as a confounding factor, affording him options, flexibility, and diversions so as to never simply replicate his own process. The most purely abstract of the three artists in the exhibition, Chandler builds up shapes, symbols, and variable surfaces to create his busy, high-contrast images.
Lennette Crouch’s work is similarly colorful and also pushes toward abstraction but with a focus split between developing patterns and semi-abstractions of nature. Crouch flattens images of things like plant life, trees, and Niagara Falls, rendering them with distinct contours and surrounding them with a bed of patterning.
Avalene Musik’s work shares the image contortions and flatness of Crouch’s work and the busyness of Chandler’s work, but her push toward abstraction and intense color stems from an underlying anxiety toward the threatening and weaponized normativity of the world around her. The stylization of Musik’s work is a cloak, with its playful appearance acting as a coping mechanism and distraction from the work’s foundational unease. So while there are plenty of the requisite visual connections between these three artists’ work to hang them side by side comfortably, what’s perhaps most interesting about the exhibition (aside from the compelling work itself) is the way in which each artist’s path to those similarities contrasts.
This exhibition is an installment in Starlight’s Side by Each exhibition series, in which we pair artists from Starlight (Chandler, Crouch) with artists from the creative community outside of Starlight (Musik).
When asked about his work, one theme Paul Chandler often comes back to is diversity. The term has a dual meaning in this case, referring both to an endorsement of the benefits of cultural diversity and to his effort to make a diverse body of work by not repeating any of his creative formulas too closely. In his mixed-media drawings, familiar visual themes are often derailed by newly incorporated material (beads, thread, collaged bits). In his hand-sewn “spectrum sensory” dolls, he shifts suddenly between contrasting fabrics, makes beguiling material substitutions for bodily features, and will often sew on trinkets in seemingly arbitrary places. Originally, the dolls were conceived as comfort aids for two of Chandler’s nephews who are autistic. In this way, the shifting texture of the dolls offers a variety of haptic comforts a regular stuffed animal cannot. Chandler deliberately incorporates unexpected new elements to propel his work forward, ensuring that the next thing does not look quite the same as the previous thing. He puts it like this: “Infinite diversity, in infinite combinations” (quoting Vulcan philosophy). Chandler is a Buffalo native. He dabbled in drawing when he was younger but mentions being guided by a few close family members and one-grade school art instructor. He has been an artist at Starlight Studio and Gallery in Buffalo for over a decade.
Lennette is a deep thinker and enjoys a good sense of humor. She has a love of horror and prefers darker fiction and films. Sighting Alfred Hitchcock as one of her favorite film directors. Lennette enjoys writing and looks forward to developing these skills while attending Starlight Studio. Family and loved ones are important to her. She turns to them for inspiration and support. Her hope is that she can encourage others to go for their dreams despite obstacles and challenges.
Agoraphoria or Polychromatic Dysphoria
This collection of paintings exhibits my tumultuous relationship with the outside as an individual who is both trans and neurodivergent. During the time that each of these paintings was completed, I was (and still am) dealing with an intense fear of the outside world due to trans-hate-related trauma and navigating the daily discomfort of a world designed for neurotypical people. The multicolor roomscapes and collage patterns are manifestations of the unease I typically experience interacting with the environments outside of my house; as well as the naive fantasy I have to be “normal”. Though these paintings seem boisterous, vibrant, and jubilant; their aesthetic acts as a mask to hide underlying distress.