MFA Interim Exhibition
Brittany Baldwin | Shannon Castor | Ellen Ferrier
Letitia Hill | Aisling Jelinski | Sam Kahn
January 4-15, 2021
(UPDATE: Due to Level 5 restrictions in place fron December 31, 2020 – February 1, 2021, this exhibition will not be open to the public.)
Tairseach, the Irish word for threshold, indicates a point of convergence and crossing over. Here in the heart of the Burren, land meets sea, past meets present, and mind meets body. It is in this place that six artists came together: Brittany Baldwin, Shannon Castor, Ellen Ferrier, Letitia Hill, Aisling Jelinski, and Sam Kahn.
The permeability of boundaries is exemplified by the threshold – that thin veil between ‘here’ and ‘there’. Including themes of mind and body, place and space, and temporality and materiality, tairseach / threshold explores the merging of six diverse practices through the lens of the Burren.
Brittany Baldwin is an MFA student originally from Louisiana in the United States. Her painting practice from her BFA has led to an exploration of material, culminating in a sculpture and mixed media practice today. Primarily working with natural materials, Brittany explores connections between materiality, locality and memory in her work.
Brittany has begun to draw from her own memories and familial background, exploring concepts of connectivity to the natural world and the human condition. Both of her parents and two great grandparents had a background in aeronautics; this has led to the exploration of the wing and humanity’s interest in flight and biomimicry. Brittany has a deep interest in human history, and the history of airplane development has a unique connection to the environment, drawing from the anatomy of the bird to allow a human to experience flight. Through the lens of the ‘shimmer,’ a concept of connections between species and life cycles, Brittany lures the viewer in, allowing for reflection on our relationship with the natural world.
Running is a heightened sensory experience. The five senses we are taught to have are expanded to infinite perceptive processes through this accelerated movement. This amplified vision and phenomenological experience is the genesis of my artistic process. Through oil painting I recreate the heightened experience of running and how it connects me to the environment.
This organism to environment relationship, or enactivism, highlights perception and how we make sense of the world, the situated experience that we are all connected to – humans, nonhumans, and habitat.
This relationship to the environment, the agency an organism exerts on its surroundings has social and societal implications that extend from the cognitive science of enactivism. In a gendered context, both sexes do not have the same rights to agency under the current culture across the globe. Agency in respect to when and where our bodies can be, look, and exist is challenged by pre-existing norms passed through centuries of evolving yet strangely the same cultural ideals and preferences. By running long distance in a female body over wild terrain, outside in the elements, I subvert the domestic role of women and exercise the freedom I know is my right.
Color is pronounced loudly in my work. My palette is constantly swerving, transposing and shape shifting, echoing my internal to external journeys between light and dark, subjectivity and objectivity, emotion and stoicism, perception and outcome. Running is art. Rich with content, malleable in its service, running is a vehicle for what one needs in any given moment. Running offers space, contemplation, escape, connection, creativity, solitude, peace, gratitude and so much more.
My art practice aspires to entice sensorial engagement and corporeal participation as a means of dissolving conditioned attitudes and behaviours that estrange us from the world and inhibit sensitivity to our universal embeddedness. Prior studies in architecture, bodywork and wood-fired ceramics cultivated a sensitivity and appreciation of materiality, spatial relations and the power of mindful touch. In essence, these are all acts of encounter – meeting grounds of self and world, thresholds of exchange, transformation and potentiality.
Perceptual psychologist Laura Sewall states that our senses are our fundamental avenues of connection between self and world. We touch the world and it touches back – a perpetual reciprocal embrace.
Centuries of venerating mind over body has led to the gradual atrophy of our more intimate contact senses. In presenting liminal playgrounds for embodied exploration, I hope to enkindle renewed attentiveness to the tactile and haptic. For it is here, in this sensorial reawakening, that we lure ourselves back to the ever-fleeting present and the very intimacy of lived experience.
Letitia Hill (born 1964, in Bangor, Maine) is an Irish American visual artist. Hill works across a variety of mediums, including drawing, painting, sculpture, installation, sound and video. Hill studied at the Santa Fe University of Art and Design in New Mexico, where she earned a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2015 and is the recipient of the Emerging Artist of New Mexico. Presently Hill is attending the National University of Ireland, Burren College of Art, Masters of Fine Arts graduate programme.
Hill’s art practice is research-based. Her research projects pre-empt the materials used, taking her practice to new worlds, challenging disciplines and meaningful collaboration. As she continues a fascination with the traditional frame; not as the space it holds, nor as a stable form but a veil able to transfer complex meta-data, conversing with display creating empathy for her protagonists in natural, digital and human-made environments.
Aisling Jelinski is a visual artist from Minnesota, USA, now living in the small rural village of Ballyvaughan, Ireland. Fusing her art historical background with intuitive mark-making, Aisling’s primary medium is painting. She is especially drawn to the sculptures of Ancient Greece and Rome, and specifically how we tend to overlook their broken and fragmented state, mentally filling in the gaps rather than critically analyzing them as they exist today.
Evoked by familiarity in the unfamiliar and an unease sparked by intellectual uncertainty, the uncanny is a curious psychological experience intimately tied to the body. Using ancient sculptures as a metaphor for disembodiment, Aisling investigates the uncanny as it relates to the body-in-pieces and her own dissociation. A disconnect between ‘self’ and body, the dissociative state opens the mind up for the strange, eerie feelings of the uncanny to take root. Utilizing a colorful palette
Sam Kahn is an artist born in Buffalo, NY, and studied Psychological and Brain Sciences with a minor in Art at Washington University in St. Louis. After this, they made the decision to leave the field of neuroscience research and return to their artistic practice. They completed a Post Baccalaureate certificate at the Burren College of Art and are currently pursuing their MFA at this institution. Here, they have started to develop a practice revolving around faces, stories, and social justice.