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  • Rachel Trusty

"Summer Crush" Opens at the Lawrence Arts Center

Summer Crush, my solo exhibition of work from the Friends and Lovers Series, opened at the Lawrence Arts Center on June 28th from 5 - 9pm. The opening event correlated with Lawrence's downtown Final Friday art walk. Three other exhibitions at the arts center also opened that night.

20 pieces from the Friends and Lovers series were on display. Gallery Director Ben Ahlvers and I planned out the installation. My idea for the more salon-style hanging was for the paintings to resemble a family photo wall. I love how the team at LAC hung the work in the space.

This gallery space is long and narrow. Two sides of the space are full windows and it faces the street. The paintings were placed on the long wall across from the main windows.

I also included six of the embroidered photographs that I created at the Arts, Letters, and Numbers artist residency earlier in the month. These six pieces were my favorite from my stay there. I also wanted to hang them in a more family style arrangement. I framed them in frames that I purchased from thrift stores and painted white. This variety of frames was also supposed to echo a familiar domesticity in the presentation. I matted them white on white to isolate each image and give the viewer a specific, quiet moment with each piece.

At ALN, I had presented the pieces just tacked on the wall with pins. This showed that the photos were too small to be hung without frames and could easily be overwhelmed by their environment. This mat/frame combination seemed to work really well with the photographs and I was very satisfied with their presentation.

Rachel Trusty at the opening of Summer Crush at the Lawrence Arts Center. Photo by Mike Hannah.

There was a good turn out at the opening reception overall and I enjoyed talking with visitors about my work.

Opening reception of Summer Crush at the Lawrence Arts Center.

Opening reception of Summer Crush at the Lawrence Arts Center.

Opening reception of Summer Crush at the Lawrence Arts Center.

Image from the July 1, 2019 artist talk at the Lawrence Arts Center. Photo by Pere DeRoy.

Monday July 1st at 7 pm, I had an artist talk for my show. This was the first artist talk that I have done in two years. It was really lovely to talk about my new work. Several visitors showed up for the talk and we had a lively discussion afterwards about how the pieces and imagery came across.

A recurring question about my work that popped up here and in my meeting with Culture Shock Arkansas in May was about my use of color. This was something that I also discussed with visitors to ALN. I am not sure that I want to use any sort of symbolic color palette. In the photograph that I have painted since the residency, I have been careful to use historical colors that would have echoed the clothing and other styles of the time period. I am contented with approaching color historically instead of symbolically on these.

Image from the artist talk at the Lawrence Arts Center on July 1, 2019. Photo by Pere DeRoy.

Another question that was asked during the artist talk was about the time periods of the work and if I had thought about doing contemporary subject matter. This was something else Culture Shock brought up. Currently the photographs that I use for references have ranged from the 1910s to the 1980s. This is a pretty wide historical span. For this show, I thought the collection as a whole worked well together to tell a story of a long, hidden history.

In the future, I plan to focus more on the embroidered photographs than the paintings. These too have a broad range of periods from 1910s to 1960s. I still do not have a good answer for the disparate collection. I think the key in the future will be to curate which pieces from specific time periods are shown together as either a set from a specific time or a chronology.

Image from the artist talk at the Lawrence Arts Center on July 1, 2019. Photo by Elise Higgins.

Regarding contemporary subjects - this is definitely something that I want to explore. I have not found many contemporary photographs of queer couples that I find suitable to paint or work with. Many of them seem super posed and many are copyrighted under personal blogs and such. I think they key to contemporary couples would be to photograph friends and acquaintances myself.

My current style evokes nostalgia and memory so I do not think it would be fitting to use on contemporary subjects. I would like to still do embroidery on photographs or maybe drawings, but a new approach would need to be worked out for contemporary subject matter.

I'm super thankful to the Lawrence Arts Center for inviting me to show, hanging the work, and organizing the opening and the talk. It is a beautiful space.

The exhibition is up until July 20th and the Lawrence Arts Center is open everyday. All of the paintings in the show are for sale. None of the embroidered photos are for sale because I have entered them into shows in the fall.

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