On view at the Gatehouse Gallery
In her first solo museum exhibition, Austin-based artist Erin Curtis marries her interests in traditional craft and textiles, the feminist art movement of the 1970s, and modernist architecture and furniture to create a colorful, immersive installation. Moving into new territory for this exhibition, Curtis, who has primarily worked as a painter, here treads the line between architecture and decoration, operating in a hybrid practice of painting and sculpture by moving off the wall to include outdoor works, furniture, and nontraditional paintings.
Favoring color, pattern, and ornament, Curtis avidly explores the built environment through her objects and installations. Inspired by a recent public art commission as well as the site itself, namely the landscape outside the gallery, Curtis will create four new sculptures on the outdoor path leading to the gallery door. These sculptures, fabricated with colored glazed bricks, are informed by Islamic textiles, Navajo blankets, and Art Deco elements. Additional references include architectural elements from ancient Egyptian and Mayan cultures as well as twentieth-century geometric modernism. The artist utilizes the pathway, enlivening it with a vibrant installation of sculpture and colorful banner paintings draped from the arbor.
Curtis’s exploration of color, form, and material continues inside the gallery. Fusing her widespread interest in Mexican, South American, and Indian textile traditions with architecture and design, Curtis will display individual works that include nontraditional paintings and furniture. She bifurcates the gallery with a hanging, double-sided painting that adds an architectural element to the space. The viewer can choose to walk around the painting or peer through its numerous triangle-shaped apertures. Curtis, who spent time in India on a Fulbright scholarship, adds to the installation with handmade charpoy benches, intricately woven seats from traditional Indian culture that act as both functional furniture and art objects simultaneously. The artist substitutes the traditional rope with brightly colored parachute chord, reminiscent of her personal, colorful aesthetic. Multiple artistic traditions inform Curtis’s practice, yet the artist has developed her own distinct language. Overlaying utopic elements of beauty and structure with practicality and usefulness, her heavily patterned and colored works continue from diverse, ornamental traditions while relating to the history of Western painting. Curtis alters and expands upon historic art and decorative practices, architecture, and design to connect to a diverse and continually evolving globalized world.
Erin Curtis (born 1977) lives and works in Austin, Texas. She graduated in 2007 with an MFA from The University of Texas at Austin and in 2010 attended Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture. Select solo exhibitions include Conduit Gallery, Dallas; Women and Their Work Gallery, Austin; Kashi Art Gallery, India; and Lawndale Art Center, Houston. Beginning in fall 2013, a commissioned public art piece will be installed along 3rd Street in downtown Austin.
This exhibition is curated by Rachel Adams for The Contemporary Austin, with text also by Adams. Furthest West by Erin Curtis is presented as part of the Texas Biennial.