For the group exhibition Keepsake, fifteen artists reflect on the concept of keepsakes and how an artwork can serve as a vessel to carry a message, memory, or metaphor from the creator.
Prior to creating a new body of work, the artists were asked to respond to the question: what memory, or message from you, does your artwork carry with it? Approaching the idea of keepsakes both conceptually and personally, the artists featured in this group exhibition offer insight into universal connection and experience.
CHIAOZZA’s works reflect on the elusive and captivating qualities of the natural world. Like peeping into the undergrowth of the forest floor, CHIAOZZA’s whimsical paper pulp sculptures embody the magic and mystery of nature’s growths and flourishes.
"This is a keepsake of a special moment felt while investigating the natural world. This sculpture is inspired by getting low in a forest or a field and discovering the magic and mystery that lies at our feet. When looking at this work, we're reminded of special growths and flourishes in nature and how they reflect our desire to spend more time within the space of awe and wonder. It makes us feel inspired and transports us to an awareness where everything is connected in chaotic harmony," CHIAOZZA on Lump Nubbins.
In his newest paintings, Wong has bifurcated his compositions so that one portion exists as a separate addendum to the other. With this painting-logic, Wong’s languid scenes of stillness seem to extend beyond each canvas’ perimeter, calling to attention the environment in which they’re displayed and moments of pause that can be found outside the painting’s limits.
"This is a keepsake of my own. This painting was inspired by a corner of my studio where old paintings and new paintings sit together. When looking at this work, I'm reminded of the personal journeys we all are in the midst of walking. It makes me feel peaceful and transports me to a place where I can appreciate both the peaks and valleys a little bit more," Wong on Slow Crawl (Pictures and Clock).
Greer’s stitched silk works offer a similar moment of pause and meditative release. Patchwork pieces sewn and stretched together create a playful confluence of gradients and geometric abstraction that suggest movement and transformation.
"This is a keepsake of confections. This textile piece was inspired by the sticky sweetness of dessert. When looking at this work, I'm reminded of the tastes and colors I’ve enjoyed. It makes me feel fulfilled and transports me to the holidays when mixing in the kitchen," Greer on Watch Your Step.
In Aaseby’s works, the artist uses the rhythm and repetition inspired by the warp and weft of textiles to explore the connection between memory and mark making as a cartographic practice to navigate past and present moments. In Aaseby’s paintings, the interplay between drawn, carved, and absent marks assumes equal significance, allowing lines and patterns to intertwine, construct, and deconstruct.
"This is a keepsake of the Santa Cruz Beach Boardwalk. This painting was inspired by a surfing road-trip a few years back. When looking at this work, I'm reminded of tall cans and funnel cakes, long rights, and adventure. It makes me feel fulfilled and transports me to a time when the hardest decision I was faced with was to pick out which free t-shirt came with our pizza slice deal," Aaseby on Re Membered (Snack Shack) Snack Shack.
In Anderson’s works, what is missing is also as important as what is included. As the artist draws on popular culture and art history, his paintings are a conversation investigating how the object of the painting and the pretense of the painted image can exist alongside one another.
"This is a keepsake of Chrysanthemums. This painting was inspired by two previous works with the same subject. When looking at this work, I'm reminded of a period traveling through Japan. It makes me feel a multitude of emotions. To the Japanese, the white Chrysanthemum symbolizes grieving or death, while the red variation speaks of love and longevity. It transports me to a number of places; the first being the trip through Japan, but with each iteration of the subject it has the ability to acquire new meanings and memories, to periods when life is joyous and periods of grief and mourning," Anderson on Chrysanthemums.
Bbblob uses color and form to reconstruct memories of place into dimensional objects that act as stand-ins for moments spent traveling and experiencing new environments. Contrasting rounded curves and strong rigid lines suggest an architectural grounding of both structures observed and structures imagined to contain the subjective experience of observation.
"This is a keepsake of my residency in Lisbon. This shaped painting was inspired by the colourful tiles around the city. When looking at this work, I'm reminded of the lively Tagus river and cool ocean along the beach. It makes me feel calm and transports me to the sea where I was dolphin spotting or laying on the warm sand under the sun," Bbblob on Cool marina.
Kouri’s works respond to the theme of keepsake conceptually. Each titled "Your Title Here", once a collector purchases the work, they are able to title the work themselves, making a direct connection between the collector’s experience of the artwork, and the artist’s intended message. In this case, Kouri’s intent behind the paintings is for the collector to be able to memorialize the artwork as a celebratory symbol of a specific feeling, memory, or experience. Once titled, the artwork will be renamed in the artist’s inventory and permanently recorded in his artistic legacy.
"This is a keepsake of great importance. This painting was inspired by the joy and progress that lives inside us. When looking at it, I'm reminded of the gratitude we feel for the time we have here. It makes me feel love and transports my mind to a place of peace and stillness," Kouri on Your Title Here.
Mining personal paper ephemera including mix tape marginalia, notes-to-self, faded letters and decades-old fanzines, Barthels recreates the faded palette of his paper source by squeeging diluted acrylic pigments over new paper, cutting, and re-collaging in a self-reflexive practice. The individual pieces are rearranged like puzzles, going through multiple iterations until the works are balanced in the compositions yet have an unexpected element of surprise - much like the experience of rediscovering bygone mementos.
Through the interplay of color, shape, and transparency, Zhao’s work straddles ambiguity and familiarity, creating unique visual vocabularies that invite experiential speculation and welcome recollection of seemingly forgotten memories.
"This is a keepsake of exploration. This painting was inspired by the spontaneous dance of abstract symbols, forms, colors, and emotions. When looking at this work, I'm reminded of a meditative journey into the depths of the subconscious. It makes me feel introspective and adventurous. It transports me to a place where the boundaries of the known and the unknown blur, encouraging my spirit to explore uncharted territories," Zhao on Letter To The Unknown #15.
A focus on dualities can be seen in Tsaih’s work. Darkness and light, groundedness and buoyancy, levity and seriousness - these visual polarities offer insight into the artist’s own emotional processing, the careful consideration of each angle, vulnerability, and desire for self-preservation.
"This is a keepsake of a feeling. This painting was inspired by intense longing that sometimes feels suffocating. When looking at this work, I'm reminded of how I overcame these moments. It makes me feel comforted and transports me to a time when I persevered," Tsaih on Humid Heat.
Bania’s paintings feature pale hues and layers of subtle texture, often incorporating traditional pigments and dyes in stains and washes. Focusing on harmony between spontaneity and intention, each discrete shape in her paintings provokes a conversation between visible and unseen landscapes.
"This is a keepsake of a memory. These two paintings were inspired by the feeling of eternity. On this night, after a long day at the beach, we sat in the warm water of the tidepools, listening to music, drinking wine, and laughing. The sun was setting, and the light cast the whole sea in a warm pink hue. Clouds were reflecting off the still tidepools and it felt like you could see forever. These paintings feel both grounding and uplifting. When looking at this work, I'm reminded of the freedom and fun of that evening," Bania on Tidepool Karaoke I & II.
In Naples’ paintings, swaths of biomorphic and aqueous pigment evoke the sense of a shared space - between subjects in a painting, between former and current selves, between artist and viewer. Within these dualities, the artist suggests the generative capacity for new and collective meaning.
"This is a keepsake of how experiential meaning can change through time. This painting was inspired by a William-Adolphe Bouguereau work that I visited at the Detroit Institute of Art as a young child - and again at age 40. When looking at this work, I'm reminded of how, when I was young, my connection with Bouguereau’s painting catalyzed some of my earliest creative impulses. It makes me feel curious about the interplay of color, texture, and light, and transports me to moments of making art throughout my life, when I played with elements of wonder that became the throughlines of my work," Naples on Gathering I.
In Providência’s work, the artist has bound paired sets of his paintings together in a custom wood frame to further reinforce their co-dependent relationship. Providência’s minimalist ink paintings capture his subject's most essential qualities through an economy of line and color. In these works, Providência’s paintings recall images of the artist’s youth spent at the seaside in Portugal. The pairing of each painting acts as a poetic duet, each telling their own story and together creating a third and novel narrative.
"This is a keepsake of a beach. This painting was inspired by what I saw and experienced there. When looking at this work, I'm reminded of the long summers spent at the beach where far from technology or commerce I live happy moments and learned to appreciate and value the beautiful and simple things present in nature and life," Providência on Céu.
Oezdogan’s paintings provide an illusory counterpoint, smooth gradients and subtle plumes of concentrated pigment play against a continuous drawn line that meanders across the painting’s surface. These paintings act as a keepsake of her residency in the Caribbean, capturing the manifestation of nature’s forces contrasted with the calm serenity of island seclusion.
"This is a keepsake of my residency in the Caribbean. This painting was inspired by the forces of nature and how they manifest. When looking at this work, I'm reminded of movement and change. It makes me feel humble and transports me back to the island when I was able to work in a studio surrounded by nature and solitude," Oezdogan on Flaneur.
In Scheidt’s layered works, he abstracts organic elements of the landscape that nod to an ancient yet ever-evolving topography - an accumulation of history, experience, and the passage of time.
"This is a keepsake of memory. This painting was inspired by my experience of the southwest and the passage of time. When looking at this work, I'm reminded of deep layers of the desert and the connection to nature. It makes me feel interconnected and transports me to a realm of other histories," Scheidt on Stereo Star.
Keepsake is on view Nov 2 - Dec 22 at Uprise Art. Learn more about the exhibition here.