Curatorial Statement for "Portraits"


Patriot, 3D printed heads, painted & engraved wood, David Hicks

My first commission was during high school from a classmate to draw a portrait for his girlfriend. At least since then I’ve been considering the careful task of rendering a person’s specific likeness. The culture of portraiture became real to me after undergrad when I audited a class with Caleb Goggans in Chattanooga who worked for and was trained by a former President of the Portrait Society of America. Last year a former professor of mine, Elana Hagler, won an honorable mention at the same organization. Indiana has a vital history of skillful artists representing the state and I believe that exhibiting portraiture creates a place for artists to interact, patrons to become educated about the craft, and commissions to be set in play.


Brie, Silverpoint on paper, Caleb Stoltzfus

I know artists from different camps of art-making approaches and I wanted to display a selection of quality work that I could stand behind. In this show I’m not advocating for a particular school but wanted to show an eclectic range of media that portraiture can use; there is everything from a delicate silverpoint drawing that will have a saturnine maturation to 3D printed heads that involve both scanning and sculpting on a digital interface. The process of creating a portrait comes from a traditional skill set but can incorporate contemporary concerns. For instance, Nathan Perry’s small portraits done in watercolor books have a photo album like quality to them and remind us of our comfortable relationship with photography as truthful representation. Photography is a useful source used by some of the artists in the show, but my hope in displaying this particular range of work is to get viewers tuned in to the effects of considered mark making in communicating the figure.


The Seer, oil on linen, Ben Pines

Portraiture is an exciting way to experience someone’s likeness through the particular and informative touch of an artist. I believe each piece in this show successfully communicates the emotional presence of the person depicted, asking the viewer to engage with their presence. I believe Ben Pines has a well-articulated ethical philosophy of painting a sitter’s portrait; there is something good about intentionally entering into an empathetic space with another person. We live in a world saturated with depictions of people, but how many of them truly embody the gravitas of the individual?

"Portraits" hangs in Hank & Dolly's Gallery through April 29.