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Triple Threat: Art Stars in the Making

By Dan Swartz

Fort Wayne Reader


It is so rare to see an artist find a way through the pitfalls of academia with the strength to say "I want more,” continue through graduate studies without again falling prey to the struggles — caffeine and nicotine addictions, and then the intense lack of funds that follow shortly after the terminal degree with those three letters of distinction, MFA. To think that three such artists were able to do all of this together over the last 7 years, and continue to grow and accomplish so many great things, is almost impossible to think of. Due to the small market for creative employment locally, and the lack of local connections to outside arts communities, artists who have accomplished their terminal degrees tend to venture onward to other communities that can support them. While this is still a true representation of our local arts scene, exhibitions like "Triple Threat" are attempts to bring these artists back to our city in small ways, to build connections between artists and our community to potentially connect them enough to entice them to stay.

Amanda Elizabeth Joseph, Katie M Moore, and Nikki Turner met while in their undergraduate degrees at the University of Saint Francis, pursuing bachelor's degrees with concentrations within photography and painting. All three of these bright students were known to create challenging, complex work that caught the attention of viewers. Upon graduation, Amanda Elizabeth Joseph attended the University of Notre Dame, and Katie M Moore and Nikki Turner attended Kendall College of Art and Design in Grand Rapids, Michigan. Having graduated with their MFA's in May of 2013, all three artists have found their own paths within the art world, but agreed to exhibit there work together in "Triple Threat" allowing their Fort Wayne family and friends a glimpse at their recent work as well as to exhibit their work together which, although not coordinated, all explores various aspects of feminine identity.

Amanda Elizabeth Joseph, originally from Northwestern Ohio, has had an exceptionally quick and recognized art career, as she gained gallery representation from ZG Gallery based in Chicago during her first year in her graduate program as well as a sizable amount of national and international press. Joseph's painting, which was picked up late in her undergraduate degree, started as incredibly detailed portrait work, evolved into dichotomous images of friends spewing both disease and glitter or sequins ("Glitterfuct" is an example) and eventually evolved into a cacophony of symbol imagery connecting the once disparate realities of trailer trash and "the party girl" through a depiction of women in less than glamorous scenes of the everyday with undercurrents of darker motives like addiction and self abuse.

In all of Joseph's work, there is a mesmerizing and compulsory feeling of the viewers skin crawling. Veins bulge through thinly veined skin, pores explode off of the skin's surface, and blemishes turn into billboards across the bodies. Works like "If You Got a Gal Bring Her and We'll Have a Humdinger" use an expert painterly technique to mimic the visual of an out of focus camera, smearing the background into blurs and color fields. And with an almost unfair cherry on top, Joseph also includes drawings like "Ode to Jackson,” showing that her abilities in representation and characterization are unparalleled and not the result of some painterly trick. While Joseph is consistently tight lipped about divulging specific meanings behind specific pieces, she delights in knowing that the viewer is physically effected by the intake of her images. In "Triple Threat," Joseph represents a woman coming to terms with who she is, not in relation to concepts like beauty and even womanhood, but her intrinsic identity.

Nikki Turner, a Cleveland native, came to Fort Wayne her Freshman year at the University of Saint Francis where she studied photography under Cara Lee Wade. Turner then went on to do her graduate work at Kendall College, while she continued her relationship with her now fiance. Honing her skills both behind the camera and with the conceptual realms of contemporary photography, Turner stuck to her experiences and created a documentary series giving the viewer multiple angles of the idea and visual representation of marriage, or more accurately the process of being wed over a span of time. Turner's images, like "To Honor and Cherish," of her grandparents, foreshadowing a long life of love with an other, illustrated in "Something New," an image of Turner and her fiancé sitting in chairs on either edge of the picture plane, back lit with a Spring light each a separate entity. The beauty of Turner's eye and storytelling ability come from the order of her images and the intensely cinematic experience that viewing them in conjunction creates. Turner's work chronicles the process of one identity breaking down and the creation of another due to the inclusion of another through a significant relationship. Not the glamorous idea of the bride, but the realistic image of an individual coming to grips with a major change through the guidance of her family, the other person in the relationship, and her own self-reflection.

Katie Moore's art is both stoic and brimming, a cool exterior backed by the passion of the search for excellence like the work of the Renaissance and great classical painters. Moore's images like "Forever and Ever" contain an acute degree of compositional control, painterly skill, and unique vision. By referencing the iconic imagery of the Catholic Church, Moore challenges long held symbols and fills her picture planes with friends turned in holy creatures as well as herself and her parents, a new trinity. Due the the symbolic nature of Moore's classical references, her paintings hold an interestingly necessary form of translation as the viewer must decipher both past and present connotations to hand gestures, colors, depictions of men and women, and the concept of the gaze of the figures represented.

Moore's ability to create "simple" images with enough depth to control the viewer is a testament to the strength of this body of work, which when laid out creates a powerful reinterpretation of faith through personal relationships.

For More Information:
"Triple Threat: Amanda Elizabeth Joseph, Katie M Moore, and Nikki Turner"
Wunderkammer Company
3402 Fairfield Ave 46807

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©2018 Fort Wayne Reader. All rights Reserved.