Emmy Thelander and Mira Putnam
September 17-October 30
Curated by Fjord member, Lindsay Deifik
Opening reception: Saturday, September 17, 5-8pm
Bumpers are devices that hold us in place: schedules, budgets, physical limitations, the finitude of human life.
Emmy Thelander and Mira Putnam are two Brooklyn based artists working in painting and sculpture. As diverse as Emmy’s paintings are (they look as if a different artist could have made each one), Mira’s material choices are also wide. There is a playfulness and a curiosity in both artists’ works that made the pairing both logical and exciting.
We asked each artist to respond to one another’s practice, and here is what they shared with us:
Emmy on Mira:
When I look at Mira’s work, I am immersed in surface details—mostly glossy, different colors, formed by hand. It is earth becoming domestic. There is something religious and ritualistic, but also mundane and profane. When I was 11 years old, I brought a scented jelly candle—red, transparent—into a fort in my backyard that my mom, brother, and I had built out of 2x4s and plywood. It was night and I was by myself. I lit the candle and laid on the floor of the fort. I felt essential; stripped of the quotidian aspects of my life, like I might feel camping or in a temple. Neither experience was familiar to me. Mira’s work merges the accessories that decorated my bedroom of that era circa 1999, and the longing I felt for a transcendental ritual. The perfect bedroom accessory—a lamp—manages to be both a commodity and a psycho-spiritual resonator through its tinted illumination.
In Mira’s work, processes tell stories, like your shirt after you’ve worn it for the day or the leftover texture after scraping away a tile. Almost every surface shows evidence of her fingertips.The abundance of information might be a form of control. Like lying in my wood fort with a candle, Mira’s work longs to recreate ancient, archetypal experience. It is architecture at the beginning and end of time, decorated with the synthetic abundance of humanity.
Mira on Emmy:
When I look at Emmy’s paintings, I am reminded of the magic potions of my preteens. Instead of hiding in a closet and combining all of her mother’s lotions and oils into a single jar, Emmy lays her spells out on beautiful, rich, experimental surfaces, each one containing its own logic and ingredients unique to the magic at hand. They are dream-like portals into the most optimistic and complex priorities, wishes, and desires. There is vulnerability in their honesty and bluntness, hinting at memories of my sacred teen notebooks, each page packed with scribbled words of things I wanted but was too afraid to say out loud.
Emmy Thelander devises idiosyncratic systems that give rise to drawings, paintings, and video. She received her MFA in Painting from Yale University in 2014 and has received fellowships including the Lighthouse Works, the Fountainhead at Virginia Commonwealth University, and the Alice Kimball English Traveling grant. She has exhibited solo projects at Practice (Philadelphia, PA), Los Ojos (Brooklyn, NY), In The Pines (Jackson, WY), and Reynolds Gallery (Richmond, VA) and has been an artist-in-residence at The Alex Brown Foundation, Signal Culture, ACRE, the Osage Arts Community, and the Yale/Norfolk Summer School. She teaches at Hunter College and Hostos Community College of the City University of New York.
Mira Putnam (b. Philadelphia 1991) is an interdisciplinary artist living and working in Queens, NY. She holds a BFA in Painting from Rhode Island School of Design and is a MFA Candidate in Sculpture at Milton Avery Graduate School of the Fine Arts at Bard College. She has recently exhibited at Rachel Uffner Gallery (NYC), Kai Matsumiya (NYC), Andrew Edlin (NYC), and 123 Astronaut (Los Angeles), and has participated residencies at Brush Creek Center for the Arts, Hambidge Center for the Arts and Sciences and Wassaic Project. Putnam’s original radio play (“Cruise Play”) written in collaboration with Ryan Bush was recently commissioned and aired by Montez Press Radio (NYC). Mira is currently a Teaching Artist in the New York City public school system.