Tuesday, September 1, 2009

Press Release: Muffin Ray at Supreme Court

Release: Immediate

Date: August 25, 2009

Contact: Tracy Martin, Assistant State Curator

802 828-0749 508 487-3139

Discarded and Salvage

Works by Muffin Ray at the Vermont Supreme Court

Discarded and Salvage, a show of works by Muffin Ray opening at the Vermont Supreme Court on September 3, is an expressive collection of large-scale mixed media “paintings” that are essentially textile assemblages. Artist Muffin Ray transforms vintage quilt patches, found tapestries and other sumptuous yet cast-off textiles into broad fields of texture and color.

Ray creates deep, mysterious surfaces soaked in resin, encaustic and oil-based media that preserve embroidered textures like primeval insects in amber. Then she juxtaposes areas of painting with the glazed and stained fabrics. “All of the materials used in this work were salvaged from abandoned warehouses, dumpsters and basements,” Ray explains in a curatorial statement. Elise Kaufman, in a review of Ray’s most recent work, writes “words, painted into the full bodied surface, here become slightly ambiguous and suggestive in this new visual context and prompt questions about private states of mind, relationship, and/or physical well being.”

In her surreptitious quest for ingredients Ray discovered a wide range of swatches and bolts; some resemble Victorian tin ceilings, while others are fancy embroidery or strips of lace or aged bedding such as mattress ticking or tattered woolen blankets. The work surprises with elements of time and gentle neglect, challenging society’s penchant for flagrant beauty. The beckoning textures urge the viewer to search deeply through the layers of paint, gesso and varnishes in hopes in finding remnants of once beautiful threads and fabric or vintage utilitarian textiles. Years of wear and tear have only enhanced their original beauty.

Writing for Seven Days, Marc Awodey noted “Ray pushes technical boundaries to invent a hybrid art — part assemblage and part painting — that carries viewers down a meandering sensory stream. Her paint handling echoes the art-historical trends of the last hundred years, while her discarded, readapted textiles seem to bear the ghosts of the former lives they’ve touched.”

Muffin Ray’s work will be on display at the Vermont Supreme Court building in Montpelier through October 29. The Supreme Court building is open to the public Monday through Thursday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. and Friday from 12:30 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. (Closed Friday, October 2).

For more information, call (802) 828-0749.