"So the Stories Go" Exhibition
Casey Callahan | Ilaamen Pelshaw | Tyler Swain
September 6 - October 26, 2019
Artists Casey Callahan, Ilaamen Pelshaw and Tyler Swain each draw from memory, story and childhood in vastly different ways. Most direct is Pelshaw, who makes bright, illustrative paintings interpreting both old storytime favorites like Goldilocks and the Three Little Pigs as well as Guatemalan folk tales orally told in her youth. Through paintings and installation, Callahan is interested in how memory collects itself and is retold, especially through the digital files we snap and share on a daily basis. Mining the aesthetics of found objects and place, Swain constructs objects embedded with deeply personal histories and narratives.
Collectively, So the Stories Go asks where stories and memories come from and where they take us. How does shape, texture, smell and color connect to memory? What do we reconstruct and what do we let go? How do our personal stories of past and present interweave to form culture and norms that further nurture or inhibit us? And, what new stories are on display here in the gallery? The artists invite reflection in looking at the artwork presented and invention in deriving personal interpretations of what is seen.
Artist Statement Excerpts
I am interested in the influence current technology has on the way we collect and recall memories, as well as how this mediated recollection of memory can often inform the construction and understanding of one’s identity. I aim to explore the overlap of documented and delusional realities that occur in my everyday life by constructing my own autobiographical memories into physical objects.
There are two recurrent aspects in my art: contrast and cheerfulness. There is beauty in diversity and I transmit that in my work through color. The world we live in inevitably brings difficulties and disappointments, but also joy and beauty. I want my art to be a contribution to the latter, instead of the former.
By taking daily life as subject matter while commenting on the everyday aesthetic of poverty, Swain often creates work using creative game tactics, but these are never permissive. Play is a serious matter: during the game, different rules apply than in everyday life and even everyday objects undergo transubstantiation.
Curator’s statement about the Michael Phipps Gallery:
The exhibitions at the Michael Phipps Gallery at the Omaha Public Library are dedicated to displaying and contextualizing local contemporary art in a public space. Exhibiting artists apply in the Fall* with images of their work and an artist’s statement, and a jury selects artists and groups them together based on the submissions. Often, artists are showing with different people and work than they themselves would choose or imagine to put together; I think it’s one of the reasons this space is special for seeing art in Omaha. As curator and part of an arts & culture team at OPL, I hope the art you see here connects and inspires new conversation and ideas.