"In Their Image" is an exhibition that looks at the positive depiction of women from the view points of self and witness. The exhibition has been curated to introduce the work of Emily McPhie and Michael Southern and includes gallery artists, Mark Andres, Jani Hoberg, Richard Shorten, Michelle Gregor, and Cary Weigand.
Faith, family, self-improvement, hard work and above all… kindness – these are the ingredients that combine to create Emily C. McPhie’s compelling paintings. The daughter of artist James C. Christensen, she is the product of a happy family that encouraged the development of imagination, self-reflection and the pursuit of knowledge. She explains, “In my childhood home, Imagination was touted as the most precious faculty one could foster. I was raised under the influence of my dad’s “Land a little left of reality.” It’s a wonderful place where imagination is king.”
The desire to become an artist was assured by childhood visits to art museums, watching her father work, and early recognition of her work in high school. She graduated from Brigham Young University with a Bachelor of Fine Arts in 2001. She now has her own family and hurriedly interprets the emotions of motherhood and the ever changing relationships with her children. "Translating those thoughts and emotions into images gives me clarity, and I find I want to document them before my perception changes."
Her work uses symbolism and is of the magic realism tradition, but it is also rooted deeply in fundamental shared truths. It explores experience of family, relationships, and establishing ones own persona within the world. Who am I? How do I fit in? What is important to me? She often uses the direct gaze to connect the viewer with the work, which gives us mixed signals of familiarity and separateness. She describes the activity of painting as a necessity. “I need to create, to imagine, and to make intangible and ineffable ideas and experiences touchable, viewable, and beautiful.”
Michael Southern is a Northwest painter and printmaker. Much of his work is about finding our place within the natural world. He is drawn to landscape and the human experience of place. More recently he has introduced the hitherto unseen figure to the landscape, giving them physical presence. Renaissance and Baroque allegory painting has informed his approach, and there is a very definite neoclassical feel about his work.
“The old mythological and religious paintings of the Renaissance and Baroque are a huge inspiration for my latest figurative work. Much of the imagery made during this historical era in the Western world possesses an optimism about humanity that feels lost in the current day. In addition to the usual suspects of Western mythology and religion, I am referencing the mythology and storytelling of indigenous cultures. So many of these current and past civilizations have the earth and nature itself as the centerpiece of human creation and spiritual rebirth. These new allegorical images are not without an agenda. They are offering a way forward and through our current stasis. The characters depicted in this body of work are stage actors in a new mythology.”
As the paintings have evolved the figures have become more prominent within their environment and the narrative traveling a more specific path. He explores the primacy of feminine power, spiritual and corporal identity and ritual adornment. He is aware of issues surrounding the male gaze in contemporary art. His standpoint is to bear witness rather than placing his female protagonists into the role of artist’s muse. The most recent works have been distilled down to a single dominant figure as the largest part of the composition.