Exhibitions 'Kirstin Lamb: Floral Remix' and 'Todd McKie: Handmade Paper' at Gallery NAGA

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Exhibitions 'Kirstin Lamb: Floral Remix' and 'Todd McKie: Handmade Paper' at Gallery NAGA
Todd McKie, Galisteo, 1987. Handmade paper, 46 × 80 in. Unique work. US$13,000.

BOSTON, MA.- February opened with two varied approaches to imagery and craft in the form of needlepoint derived paintings by Kirstin Lamb and handmade paper works by Todd McKie. Kirstin Lamb: Floral Remix and Todd McKie: Handmade Paper are both on exhibition since February 2, and will continue through March 2.

Kirstin Lamb, in her first solo exhibition at Gallery NAGA, presents complexly layered paintings based on French wall decoration, embroidery and cross-stitch patterns. Her works encompass hybrid embroidery, cross stitch, collage, and digital mark-making. Lamb makes a layered digital collage, using current and past paintings and patterns, and cuts and chops them, drawing in new marks and scribbles. This collage then leaves the computer and is printed on canvas where she begins her painting process. These paintings are a remix of feminine lapcraft, decorative design and digital traces of Lamb’s own past work.

Parts of this series are generated from images of French wall decoration made following the discovery of the ruins of Pompeii and Herculaneum in the late 1700s. These works were deliberately cropped from texts discussing the shift in pattern before and after the discovery of those ruins, and the elaborate color and design shifts that occurred after the unearthing of the frescos. I am interested in the power engendered by pointing back to antiquity in times of struggle or trouble, and what that means in decoration. I am curious about the relationship of later popular decoration to this earlier format and find that I mine a large range of textiles and wallpapers for my work, partially as I seek to tie together disparate influences in my visual history, to sort them through. The re-presenting of many of the motifs hopefully begins to suggest the darker uses of antiquity and decoration more broadly as a stand in for beauty and power.

Lamb is the recipient of several awards and residencies, including the DNA residency in Provincetown, MA and the Wassaic Project Residency in Wassaic, New York. Her work is in the collections of Fidelity Investments and Fruitlands Museum. Lamb is an instructor at Clark University in Worcester, MA. She received her MFA from RISD and her BFA from Brown University. She resides in Providence with her husband and two cats.

Todd McKie (1944 – 2022) began his handmade-paper-making endeavors in the mid-1980s at Rugg Road in Somerville. Rugg Road, started by Bernie Toale and Joe Zina as a publishing company, often invited local artists to use their facilities and explore the tactile process of making hand-made paper. During a studio inventory review following McKie’s death in 2022, five paper pieces were discovered.

McKie, well-known already for his vibrant watercolors and flashe paintings, took to the hand-made paper process quickly. His mix of loose abstract and animal forms were a natural fit for the physical process of making paper. Rather than jump immediately into complex pigment variations, McKie restrained his first attempts to black, white and grays. The surfaces are chunky and uneven—some forms made using a squirt bottle while others made by heaping pulp in piles with his hands.

The resulting body of work, shown at NAGA, is a clear exploration into a new art making process. In a rare moment of spontaneity and with no expectation of the result, McKie was able to dive in and simply play. New materials led to unexpected surprises and delightful revelations—a classic Todd McKie moment.

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