Visual Arts Program
 

Friday, September 13 at 8:00 pm

Shea Hembrey - Exhibition Opening and Artist's Talk

 

Exhibition continues through October 25

Shea Hembrey's work questions reality. He seriously explores our best current understanding of the structure of reality while also often playing trickster. Currently, that exploration questions our contemporary view of the universe as revealed through physics.

He approaches art by concentrating on a singular, defined conceptual project where the ideas direct what methods and media he uses. Research is key to all of his creative endeavors while he remains a prolific maker of things.

Though always focused on developing new technical skills on his own, he has a varied formal art education. His nine years of studying art at university include a year spent studying Maori art in New Zealand and an MFA from Cornell University.

Ash Works explores the initial first six months of a new series of paintings, sculptures, and installations by Shea Hembrey. It begins with burning an object and turning those ashes into paint so that the transformed object is still fully present in a completed work. Beyond transforming an object into paint in this way (as a condensing), diametrically, how might burning obliterate a thing and all that it represents? Burning can annihilate, it can transform, it can cleanse. In what ways might the ritualistic power of flame be harnessed? 

Initially in any new series, Hembrey asks broad questions and seeks multiple modes of creating to discover the specific territories that he wants to develop as a series of work over years. After years of refinement, he finally exhibits or release the work. Here, Hembrey is revealing his very first explorations as he embarks upon various paths to explore how ash can be used both conceptually and physically. 

Simultaneously, he is continually exploring form and concept in this new series of work. As paint, how might ash become a thin, translucent wash or a thick, carvable chunk? How might one sculpt with such ephemeral dust? When is it relevant to not alter raw ash in any way at all?

Conceptually, the source of the ash alone could direct the work in drastically different territories. Consider how he has used burning books so far—from sacred texts to his own damaged, unsalvageable artist books being fully resurrected in a new form to hundreds of art history volumes burned to render comprehensive piles of all the art that has come before into mounds of readily reshapeable powder.

In this manner, the work becomes about the past, its residue and also about its future and present self. It is an act of reimagining that takes a substance most often considered the endgame of a physical substance and reconfigures it as a substance still imbued with possibility. 

www.sheahembrey.com

nytimes.com/2011/12/18/magazine/shea-hembrey