Against the Grain, new work by Justin Vining

Harrison Center studio artist Justin Vining, creator of past Harrison Center shows In the Moment and Outside, among others, will unveil his latest body of work titled Against The Grain on March 1st at First Friday. Against The Grain will hang in the Harrison Gallery and Gallery Annex through the month of March, and will feature close to 100 new pieces by Vining.

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For those familiar with Justin’s paintings, Against The Grain may simultaneously feel like a renaissance of the style Vining first became known for and a deviation into new artistic methods and fashions not traditionally seen in his catalogue, with the show consisting primarily of three distinct types of work: plein air landscape paintings, wood-grain pieces featuring rural farmlands and barns, and whimsical landscapes. “The show is a super diverse summary of my past twelve months,” said Vining. “This might be one of the most disconnected, disjointed, shows I’ve ever put together. I’ve been known to make work in a wide variety, and this might be the show where I’ve come the closest to displaying all of those, the full range of everything I make in one spot.”

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The pieces presented in Against The Grain were, for the most part, informed by Vining’s thoughts and experiences throughout the past year, and influence from those experiences can be seen across the artistic mediums he chooses to use. With the plein air work, we are allowed glimpses of the travel that Justin has recently been able to do to various sites around the United States and Europe, including a couple particularly beautiful pieces of spots in Brown County, IN, and the Swiss Alps, to name a few. In the same vein, we can see a snapshot into some of Vining’s reflections on his upbringing in rural Indiana farm country through the wood-grain pieces, which all feature images of farmland or classic farm structures, such as barns and silos. Lastly, we see a revival of Vining’s signature style through the whimsical works, which is the method that initially drew attention to his craft, seeing a fresh display of these colorful and unique pieces as Justin returns to the roots of his earlier work.

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Given the sheer number of paintings and the apparent dissimilarity of the pieces, a relationship between the works may not be apparent at first glance, but a connection between them can be seen in the subtleties. For example, the wood-grain pieces elicit calming, restful feelings and memories of home through the soft browns of the polished wood and the superimposed images of Indiana farmland, while many of the whimsical works draw from similar inspiration and landscapes but offer a completely different perspective through stronger, brighter colors such as pink, blue, and green. With the plein air pieces, there is tremendous variety of what is painted, whether it be mountains, forest, water, or even the inside of a brewery, yet the style and method remains consistent throughout the work, providing a connection between all the works.

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There is such a rich assortment of pieces in Against The Grain that anyone who comes to enjoy it will certainly find something of meaning and beauty, as this truly is a show that draws from a number of different traditions, styles, and inspirations that all have much to offer. Said Vining, “There’s so much diversity in this show that I hope there’s something that everyone can find that they appreciate. The work that’s the most meaningful for me is the work that’s the most personal, and what’s been cool about creating work in such a wide range of styles is that ‘personal’ is subjective for everyone. While some of the pieces might not have as much meaning to me, in terms of location or where I painted them, they may have other people’s experience and memories more closely tied to them than I ever intended.”

We hope you will come enjoy this beautiful collection of unique pieces while they’re here at the Harrison Center.

Kyle Baird