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texture/imperfection/life

Works by Marjorie Fedyszyn, Mark Granlund, and Ellie Kingsbury

On view September 2 to 30

Artist Reception Saturday September 16 from 4 to 6 pm.

For Marjorie Fedyszyn, art making is a meditative ritual, allowing her the time and space to explore the tensions of the dualities that life presents: strength and vulnerability; things beautiful and grotesque; of the subconscious or sentient thought; things lost or found. These ideas all play out in her work as an artist. The result is a connection to the emotional self.

Lost/Found began in summer of 2015 shortly after she helped move her mother from Western New York State to a dementia nursing care facility near her home in Minneapolis. Witnessing her mother’s gradual, irreversible decline as she approaches death has been a humbling and tender experience that so many of us share. The sense of loss she feel each time they visit hangs heavy on her heart and this work honors both her mother and that poignant loss.

Working intuitively, Fedyszyn combined found objects collected throughout her life and scraps discovered while on walks, with many sheep fleeces people donated to my felting practice over the years. During a period of eight months she created the multiple elements you see on the walls of the gallery by felting the wool and hand stitching texture into it; adding found pieces and hand worked materials after the shape had been established. Fedyszyn created the installation, Sorrow this summer to go with the other components especially for this exhibition.

Mark Granlund’s work began as a way to document the food in his refrigerator that is thrown out: tomatoes that have softened, an eggplant that starts to mold, carrot tops that are not eaten, etc. This is an odd unintended waste that happens to most people. This series of work began as an homage to Vanitas paintings created in the 16th and 17th Centuries. Vanitas paintings would include a human skull or a piece of rotting fruit to remind people of their mortality. Granlund’s food waste paintings are an allegory for humanity’s waste of our natural world and how we have become soft – forgetting who we are, where we are and how to care for ourselves.

Images of mundane vegetable parts and forgotten food become pregnant with meaning as Granlund looks at the question of edibility. The edible is defines as fit to be eaten as food. Food is defined as any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy, and promote growth. Is everything labeled food really edible? There are parts of our food that we do not eat, but throw away or compost. After a certain point in time, food is no longer edible and becomes non-food. Some food isn’t edible until it has been altered. Amongst all of this change and inconsistency our industrial food system, like much in American life, substitutes healthy elements of our food with less healthy elements. Some contemporary foods are harmful to us, not sustaining life, providing energy, or promoting growth. Some ingredients, in any other situation, would not be considered edible. Although the industrial food system strives to create food that will not rot, it ends up that the food that can rot is what provides us the most nutrients and sustains us best. Other than breathing air, eating food is the most interaction we have with the natural world and its processes.

Ellie Kingsbury’s photographs of individual vegetables; dirty, lumpy, and imperfect, reflects on our culture’s fixation of newness and perfection. Kingsbury’s inspiration comes from having grown up in a Midwestern farming community and from keeping a large vegetable garden. She equates stumpy carrots, cracked tomatoes, and bug-eaten corn as real food, and distrusts anything that is too pretty.

Grocery stores’ cherry-picking of blemish-free food might make for good marketing, but it also indicates a further distancing from the cycle of life. She is also drawn towards the unassuming heroes of the vegetable world – while it’s easy to be attracted to the fleshy pleasures of things like peppers and eggplant, it’s the lowly cabbage and potato that have kept entire cultures alive in bad times. Though her subjects’ characteristics may look fragile, there is an underlying strength. They emerge from a darkened environment, contemplative and tenacious. Each photo is carefully lit to study the character of her subjects. She doesn’t make a spectacle of scars or decay, but rather works to show how the sturdiness of withering vegetables is itself a beautiful thing. Kingsbury extends her themes by printing her photos on handmade tissue paper. Much like the skin of her subjects, the paper seems fragile, but it is likewise more substantial than one might think. This process adds back in the tactile elements of wrinkles and blemishes, which further accentuate the imperfect surfaces of the vegetables.