Finding Stability in a World That is Not – a Conversation With Joan Wadleigh Curran

“I mean, I only have one little voice,” Joan Wadleigh Curran muses. And yet her voice echoes through the empty gallery. It reverberates with a tinny nature, as it buzzes through the speakerphone. While in the grand scheme of things, Curran is indeed just one voice, aiming to make a statement with her art, in another sense, she will swallow you whole.

Joan Wadleigh Curran, born and raised outside Boston, now lives and works in Philadelphia, and is the solo artist in the upcoming InLiquid show, “Instability.” And although she is just one voice, her art speaks volumes.

Aftermath (ca. 2016-2017), Oil on Canvas

In my conversation with Curran this past week, Curran spoke of the path she had taken to arrive at “Instability.” Like many great ideas, it began with a seed, or a sapling of an idea. Actually, it began with the pollard trees that had been trimmed and pruned in a way that thwarts their growth to allow for regeneration. It was this dichotomy of nurture and neglect that first set Curran to lean into moments of dialogue between nature, and human’s hand acting upon nature. From there, Curran has been finding this same phenomenon in a multitude of locations.

From New Orleans in the wake of Hurricane Katrina, to the shores of Ireland, Curran has a knack for finding lost objects washing up at her feet.

While these paintings lack any depictions of human forms, there is a surrogate structure to fill in for their absence: a mass of object that impose upon the viewer. The wall of objects in Aftermath I and Aftermath II Curran stresses the impact of humans on environments, and the presence of people that imposes upon spaces as objects gather in unexpected places. It is not just trash that is found in these compositions, but their human histories as well. Private, intimate histories comes along with them, imbuing each landscape with a story. But even given all their history, there is something uncanny about seeing such familiar items arranged as they are in Curran’s paintings. All the objects are forced up to the front, all in focus, all at your fingertips. Every single one tells you to take a look.

Curran is not interested in providing you with an answer in her mysterious paintings. Instead she gives you questions. So while she might have just “one little voice,” it’s got a lot to say, and it’s definitely worth a listen.

Instability” opens April 11th. Visit Artsy to see the entirety of the show and all the works that are available for purchasing.

RSVP to the reception 4/11! 

Erin Oliver
Erin Oliver
Elaine M. Erne, co-founder and co-director of Star Wheel Printers, received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and her MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia, PA.  Erne’s drawings and prints have been featured in numerous invitational and juried national exhibitions. The Lives and Traumas of Stuffed Animals is a series of comically disturbing depictions of Mr. Bunny and his friends under siege. The series is made up of very large graphite pencil drawings, woodblocks, etchings, and lithographs. Although there is a playful side, the underlining theme is fear, cruelty, and survival.  In recurring distressful situations people often become like dolls, presenting a steady happy personae no matter what is happening.  Though the circumstances represented in the work are not real, no stuffed animals were hurt in the making of the work, they capture the aura that surrounds a person who has no control but will not give in.
Elaine M. Erne
Elaine M. Erne

Elaine M. Erne, co-founder and co-director of Star Wheel Printers, received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh,…

Elaine M. Erne, co-founder and co-director of Star Wheel Printers, received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and her MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia,…

Elaine M. Erne, co-founder and co-director of Star Wheel Printers, received her BFA from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh, PA and her MFA from Tyler School of Art, Temple University in Philadelphia, PA. Erne’s drawings…

Annie Stone cuts out images and uses a unique technique to attach them to each other, interweaving them in a way that creates shapes independent of any background.
Annie Stone
Annie Stone

Annie Stone cuts out images and uses a unique technique to attach them to each other, interweaving them in a way that creates…

Annie Stone cuts out images and uses a unique technique to attach them to each other, interweaving them in a way that creates shapes independent of any background.…

Annie Stone cuts out images and uses a unique technique to attach them to each other, interweaving them in a way that creates shapes independent of any background.…

Injoo Whang
Injoo Whang
Greg Kelly
Greg Kelly
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