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  1. Friday, December 15, 2017

  2. Saturday, December 16, 2017

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Exhibitions

A Thirsty Switch Still Quivers For Me: The Art of Gina Phillips

About the Exhibition

Find me cold, cold water underground
Find me cold, cold water underground
My thirsty switch still knows the sound
Of a bubbling stream, running under my feet
My thirsty switch still quivers for me                     

I plug my ears but I still hear the sound
I plug my ears but I still hear the sound
My thirsty bones pounding the ground
And it’s been a long time, but I think I will find
My thirsty switch still quivers for me

My thirsty switch still quivers for me
My thirsty switch still quivers for me

Well, I’m hoping I can get enough
I get a bucket and fill it up
And you go on about a lot of stuff
But I believe it’s true, by the time that we’re through
Your thirsty switch will quiver for me

Your thirsty switch will quiver for me

 Lyrics by Gina Phillips

 

Growing up in rural Central Kentucky in the 1970s, my childhood was marked by an absence of conventional modern conveniences. In many ways, the conditions in which we lived were not that different from those of quite a few decades prior. However, I was fortunate to be surrounded by a family characterized by a propensity for mechanical, artistic, and musical abilities. The absurdity of poverty, and the skills that go along with it, such as the ability to reuse, modify, and transform materials that most people would consider trash, turned out to be a very effective training ground for my life as an artist.

My grandmother, in particular, was a big inspiration. She was a folk artist, guitar player, singer, poet, and card reader. She was a wealth of information regarding worlds both physical and spiritual. A Thirsty Switch Still Quivers For Me is a reference to my grandmother’s gift for the art of dowsing. She had a unique method of fashioning her own dowsing rods: she would un-kink two metal coat hangers and use two empty toilet paper rolls as handles. There was a particular spot on our land that the dowsing rods would cross as she passed over it, indicating the presence of an underground stream. This connection with unseen forces was a great source of wonderment in my childhood and this quality inspires many of the narratives in my work to this day.

I’ve been living in New Orleans since 1995. I bought a house in the Lower Ninth Ward in New Orleans in 2004 and lost almost everything in the floods brought on by Hurricane Katrina in 2005. I have such a strong connection with my spot here on the Mississippi River; going through the whole process of rebuilding after Katrina made this connection even stronger. The work in this show is a sampling of pieces from several bodies of work completed in the last five years.  The imagery relates to a strong sense of place I’ve developed while living here in Southeast Louisiana. Yet in this work I still see the forces that shaped me…tragicomic narratives, absurd characters and the manifestation of unseen forces at work. A thirsty switch still quivers for me.

 

About the artist: Born in Madison County, Kentucky, Gina Phillips is inspired by the imagery, narratives, and characters of both her native Kentucky and her current home in New Orleans. This five-year survey exhibition at 21c includes painting, sculpture, and her signature fabric and thread pieces, which Phillips creates in a wide range of scales and subject matter. “To me, making art is one half a desire to tell a story, and one half a love of the materials,” says Phillips. Applying craft-based technique to a compelling exploration of both personal experience and art historical tradition, Phillips transforms portraiture, landscape, and assemblage art to offer an immersive, multi-media exploration of the people and places that shape this artist’s visionary practice.

Gina Phillips earned a BFA from the University of Kentucky, and an MFA from Tulane University’s Newcomb College in New Orleans. Her art has been exhibited at galleries and museums across the world, including Ballroom Marfa, Marfa, Texas; the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, New Orleans; VOLTA8, Basel, Switzerland; Prospect 2 Biennial, New Orleans; and others. In addition to 21c, works by Gina Phillips are in the collections of the New Orleans Museum, the Ogden Museum of Southern Art, the Drake Hotel, Toronto; The Frederick R. Weisman Art Foundation; Tulane University, and others. Gina Phillips is represented by Jonathan Ferrara Gallery, New Orleans.