Flora features the ceramics of Colleen McCall, paintings of Julie Nelson, and blown glass of Matt Urban. Each artist focuses of different characteristics and proclivities of plant life as subject matter and their unique relationship to their artistic media.
Colleen McCall creates functional ceramics with colorful floral surface decoration. She states, “Decorated inside and out and from top to bottom, my hand built pottery is inspired by vibrant textile patterns and the unique shapes and textures in vintage glassware.” McCall hand paints layers of colored slips and delicately carves through to create details revealing the dark colored clay of the form. The bold and symmetric floral patterns offer notions of strength and order in nature like William Morris designs and Pennsylvania Dutch folk art.
Julie Nelson paints floral still lifes from flower arrangements she creates. She states, “I work directly with no preliminary drawing. Paint can be applied thickly or in washes. Color generally is inspired by what I am observing, but can deviate. I look for repeated rhythms in shapes and lines and a push and pull in positives and negatives and lines and areas of color. This begins early on with the selection of elements for the still-life. These works are not meant to be true representations of what I am seeing, but, spontaneous reactions to the beauty found in nature.” Her paintings emphasize the wildness and uncontrollable nature of plants as the stems, leaves and petals tangle together on the paper. Growth and decay, life and death, order and chaos are often the message in still life.
Matt Urban sculpts fruits and vegetables with blown and solid hot glass. His pineapples, pumpkins, and corn in beautiful transparent colors are complex iterations in delicate lines and full volumes. The bounty they symbolize is precious but powerful. Urban is offering his glass work at lowered prices for the Flora exhibition and 40% of each sale will support programming at the McLean County Arts Center.
Credit: Exhibition overview from museum website.