Shapeshifter at AVA: Telephone [Photoblog]


ShapeShifter Gallery is a contemporary moving gallery, highlighting forward thinking artists, helping to evolve Chattanooga’s art scene. This gallery features one night gallery shows taking place in variant spaces throughout Chattanooga. ShapeShifter gallery is dedicated to providing a new and affordable take on art collecting in our fine city. (Via Shapeshifter)



This article is a documentation of Shapeshifter’s “Telephone Show,” an art project/exhibition based on the childhood game, “Telephone.”  

“The game starts where one child whispers a sentence into the ear of another child, that child then whispers what they heard to another child, and so on.  As the sentence is passed along, it changes. Some of the children want to make it more silly, some simply didn’t hear it correctly. By the time the sentence gets to the last child, it has become a completely different sentence.” (Via Shapeshifter)

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1. Claire Bloomfield

Scanners can proliferate consciousness. They are an alternative eye that feels within and develops without. On the glass an image begins amorphous, but is galvanized through reproduction. The scanner’s glass is considered a cleansed “bed” where dreams are enveloped, nested, and nurtured. It is a bed holding space for ritualistic creation and farmed ideas. Walter Benjamin analyzes the “aura” as being lost through reproduction, but with new media platforms, scanners can illuminate life and light through a copy. Prior to the copy, the original materials/painting/ alter/ is considered “lifeless”. It usually looks grotesque as dirt and pigments are swirled together with incense, and the scanner quickly shorts-out after an image appears on the computer screen. I hope to get at least ten scans out of every scanner. Surprisingly this is cheaper than canvas these days.


2. Rylan Thompson

I was mostly drawn to the overall composition of Claire’s piece - the two outer circles - and how they seemed to frame an image of some future space age saint. (At least that’s what I saw - I see faces in everything though). I started my work by trying to mimic the outlying paint strokes in Claire’s work, then pulled some more fun bits and pieces out of it to create my own vague face. I let my own intuition and playfulness fill in the gaps.

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3. Heath Montgomery

The beginning of story should ask a question, and what I wanted to do was, increase the magnification of what Rylan had presented and also explore the dream without bringing too much into focus.

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4. Sue Fox

I wanted to step out of my boundaries in this project. Every artist creates their own rules and parameters when making a piece of art. Those rules, are rules within rules, that fall within a loose confine of that artist’s style. For example, my rules basis is “work small, use collage pieces, explore color and motion”-when I begin a piece my new rules may be -“do that... but now explore the color blue and how it turns into purple, never use collage pieces larger than 2” square, and make the piece feel like breathing.” This project sent everything topsy turvy, my original rules were different. This time they were-“use hard lines, more painting elements, add recognizable imagery, and focus on the feeling of “disjointed” ”-I took these elements and worked backwards. To make the piece my own I would still abide some of my instinctive rules, I would make my piece small, and use collage.-The end result is something I would have never made on my own. How amusing to follow someone else’s rules for a change.

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5. Damien James

The intersecting lines of the telephone game piece before mine were full of energy that I used for my entry into the game. I began with similar lines, pulling them from the center of the paper outward. After a dozen or so marks were made, what I saw was an aerial perspective of a cityscape, so I found some images of perspective shots of major cities - Dubai, New York, and my hometown of Chicago among them - and fleshed out overlapping layers. I've also been working with text for the last couple of years, and in thinking of the excess of such big cities and the conspicuous consumption they engender, I added an upside-down GFY - go fuck yourself - mostly because I wanted a text component in this piece, something that illustrated my sense of
humor a little...

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6. Carrie Pendergrass

When I first saw my inspiration piece, I was kind of scared because it seemed so close to being like an architectural rendering. I knew that something like that would be really difficult to do (and not really “me”) via my current medium of no-press monoprinting from Gelli plates. As I
examined it more, the buildings began to remind me of ordered crystalline forms. I decided it might be interesting to create my own stencils of stylized crystal shapes. In order to capture the
three-dimensionality of the inspiration piece, I made a second set of overlapping stencils to represent some of the facets of the crystals. I didn’t want to go too crazy with color since his was just red and blue, so I decided to go with somewhat muted primaries and black to make it
more graphic. I kept it as precise as I could and ended up liking the minimalist vibe.

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7. Christine Bespalec-Davis

Right before the winter holidays I received the art I would work from but decided to wait for the chaos to die down and let the idea of it mull around in my head a bit. Suddenly, it was Christmas and my family was speeding 9 hours to Nebraska to watch my father in law pass on
from this world into the next with his family, and all the complications that go with it by his side. After living in a hotel for a week and long drives across the frozen Midwest, I found myself with a looming (or, admittedly late) deadline. I had considered doing a painting or a lino cut, but i decided I wanted something impulsive -- not over thought or heavy handed. I was emotionally exhausted, but making art has ALWAYS been a coping mechanism for me. WHILE THIS piece is not emblematic of what i was going through, the IMPULSIVITY of making was extremely therapeutic for me at this time. I sat down in the center of my living room floor with a stack of old magazines and fabric scraps and began cutting and arranging-- playing with primary colors and the linear qualities of the artwork before mine. I finished at 1am, snapped a picture and emailed it before I could change anything. Then I packed it away. I didn't look at it again until my family had moved cross country from Chicago to Chattanooga.

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8. Amanda Brazier

I was immediately drawn to the juxtaposition of text and textile in Christine’s piece as well as the bright reds, corals, and oranges against the dark textile fragments. In further researching of Christine’s work, I deeply connected with her reflections on womanhood and motherhood (I was 3 months pregnant with our second son when I completed this painting for the exhibit.) The imagery in my pattern recalls the pattern of our living room rug, upon which I spend much of my days playing with our two sons.

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9. Andrew Nigh

For my piece I played off the color schemes from Amanda's piece to move forward with "Pathogen". The process involved in creating this piece derives from the beautiful but dark manner in which evolution occurs on the micro-cellular level. Just as this piece is a small step in a larger project, so too are the processes that make and enable life, death and evolutionary progression.

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10. Sarah Noreen

I was inspired by the circle and cone shapes in the previous piece. It made me think of a tunnel. I live outside Washington DC so at the time I was making this piece, I thought, how nice it would be to escape the political bubble that I live in for a little while.


11. Sean Whittaker

When I created this piece, I was pulling a story from the image of the preceding piece. The lower portion: clearly a city scape overlaying colors that suggest dusk. The upper right portion: shapes and colors suggesting an energy descending on an unsuspecting world, with a worker building or repairing some kind of portal or trap through which this energy was traveling. I cobbled my skyline together from pieces of different cities, from different times and set them against a night sky. The energy became a fireball. It bears the visage of a familiar human doom, and hurtles toward the planet from regions unknown. A portal opens in this hubris and can no longer be closed by its engineers, even as one, dangling from its rim, races to seal it. THE COURSE IS SET! FATE : INESCAPABLE!

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12. Lara Wolf

The prior piece had a lot of negative space in the middle of the page, since I am a fashion illustrator, I added a figure in the middle and used the firey skull from the prior piece as her head.

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13. Maria Willison

"It is unique for me to create a sculpture with this feel about it, most of my work has more complicated concepts. But when I was creating this piece I was definitely enjoying the simple, dark whimsy of the subject matter.”

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14. Daniel Peterson

I tried to borrow perceived themes and textures of the piece I worked from (scratchy carved textures and what appears to be a youthful acknowledgement of-but ambivalence toward mortality) and lay them over themes that appear frequently in my work-the wonder, work, and
creativity of a child’s mind vs. that of an adult’s. I wanted to stay true to my own visual vocabulary and interests without corrupting what I thought were the ideas and aesthetics I had been handed. Respect but not restraint.

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15. Eric Rivera

I was dealing with an image of an artist baby, and wanted to explore that by making some raw tattoo flash on a found object record sleeve, because of how much baby tattoo flash imagery is out there...the naivete of child art/tattoo art/outsider art...a piece of tattoo flash art is so's low brow. It's made on junk paper, it is not that original...but it can make the artist good, living wages if someone wants the image, whether or not it is sold in a gallery. Although it may not be worth anything now, one day if it just floats around in the world long enough, it will be grossly inflated in value, assuming tattoo popularity continues to grow in this world. Unless, perhaps, the bubble bursts, which is fine too, as long as the Western world is RE-TATTOOED. After hundreds of years of systematically stamping out indigenous tattooing everywhere, the missionaries did this, “idiots,” while looking for riches. The tattoo is low brow but also is the most important human art form in all of history and it's tentacles are important in film, music, photography, fashion, etc, etc...For every sexy teenager who gets a face tattoo and thus 85 million hits on their youtube opiate addiction anthem rap song, tattoo art is strengthened and destroyed at once. TATTOO is eating itself and being reborn right now. It is the most important and interesting art form in the world currently, and maybe always was, and always will be.

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16. Mark Leamon

All I did was take old drawings and paper clippings from a family kitchen drawer and try to reconstruct a memory of hanging out at my Grandma’s house while waiting on my Mom to get off work, watching my Grandmother sew and quilt as we lie waiting and watching the CBS
Saturday Night Special

17.Sean Abrahams

I wanted to follow the arrangements and colors of the piece that I was responding to, and include my practice of spontaneous image making. I tried to have a good variety of loose and tightly rendered areas to reflect the loose drawing and collage elements present in the other artists work. The task was quite challenging and I started slow
but picked up once I allowed myself to get carried away and not worry so much about it reflecting the other piece. The end result was tighter and further away from the other piece than I had originally wanted it to be but I am still pleased with the outcome.

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18. Caitlin Dickens

The chaotic nature of the work before mine filled me with anxiety. I tried to mimic the pandemonium by using a similar neon color scheme and wild composition. The work to me seemed to have a very dark side, haphazardly hidden by vibrant hues and childlike imagery
mixed with more sinister suggestions. It made me think of the innocence we lose as we age and all the ways we are forever damaged. I continued with the fake plastic atmosphere, which
ignited the panic. The random imagery reverberates my confusion and drastically varying emotions, highs to lows, spiraling out of control. My piece is an imperfect attempt at escaping the pressure.


19. Myles Freeman

I rotated her image 90 degrees, tilted my computer screen back so the image was distorted into purely tonal information, and made an under-painting of similar tones and blotches. From there I added and subtracted details from her work, and interpreted those details very loosely. At a certain point, fairly early in the piece, I no longer worked from her image or referred to it in any way. It just became its own creature. The thought process was based on the idea of memory and communication being filtered constantly by our preferences, desires, and general worldview. We see them as we want it to be, and that is how they are to us. Ultimately, the painting is about the isolation of trying to communicate in the modern world, where the idea of the telephone is antiquated, and numerous media platforms compete for each of us to be our preferred mode of communication. Information is passed on and distorted, down the line. The result, for people like me, who have a hard time communicating under the best of circumstances , is increased loneliness. The corporate message behind technology is a promise of increased connectedness and increased meaning- to me, they've delivered a sort of splintered chaos, a whirlwind of words and noise with very little substance, and a confusing array of choices for talking and listening.

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20. Matt Dutton

I studied the inspiration piece and really looked at how the color pushed and pulled shapes and planes in space on the surface. Darks sunken and lights lift. Subtle volume plumped features began to emerge as I looked, gathering in ways to suggest some kinda facial features I surmised I've been casting in resin for years and just recently have had the desire to distort and warp a sculptural object onto a wall hanging 2D surface. This was a great exercise in a larger scale version of this idea. I've made several minis since---> I withdraw a curing resin positive from a mold prematurely. Timing for the right moment when the resin is just between firm and flexible. I can drape my resin cast object over a surface and let it harden into place. The color, I loosely attempted to capture some of the back and forth dialog between the cool and warm compliments. I tried to give a subtle nod to the dramatic compositional points that plot around the paintings surface. I really liked the color and wanted it to be a stronger connection than the image or surface content. Not seeing the painting in the flesh, I really just made my work a size that was convenient. I'm not really sure how the two pieces will scale together.?


21. Dax VanAalten

I studied the image that was presented to me of what appeared to be a smashed or half-buried garden gnome type creature partially hidden into some sort of garden setting. I didn't look at the image again for a week I just kept the idea of what I could remember in my mind and went about my normal studio practice. I then decided to paint the painting for the Telephone Show. I didn't want to get caught up in trying to be technical, or to worry about too many details from the original piece, instead I wanted to just paint the way I remembered it, knowing that I was probably way off, yet trying to continue it somehow.

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22. Ashley Hamilton

I took the telephone part of the game literally, I looked at the piece I was responding to for a solid few minutes, and then recreated it to the best of my memory like playing telephone as a kid. The shapes and colors obviously get miscommunicated and slightly morphed, but that’s
precisely the moments that interest me; the miscommunication, the variation.

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23. Taylor Turner

Creating work for the "Telephone Show" posed a challenge I hadn't yet faced in my drawing practice. Typically, I dive headfirst into a piece without an initial plan of its form. I like to think of it as 'momentum drawing': jump into the deep end and tread water until you get used to the cold feeling of a blank page of paper. There is always brief anxiety in establishing those first lines on the page, but from there I am comfortable with conscious decisions of direction or shape.
In contrast, I approached this piece with much more deliberation because I wanted to create something that specifically resembled the painting before me. I knew I had to layout the most important lines that I wanted to capture from the painting, while allowing enough momentum drawing' to intuitively connect all of those moments in my own style. It was difficult for me to be meticulous about where to draw and where not to draw, but the process was rewarding. My practice has opened up to possibilities of form that were previously left to the devices of arbitrary line making. I learned to incorporate structure into a drawing while retaining the spontaneity of my practice that makes it unique.

Mineral House