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! 

Gail Morrison-Hall finds inspiration in old buildings, Victorian Gingerbread architecture, a city or country she's traveled to, medieval manuscripts, the colors and patterns in the natural world, a quote, phrase, a question or a concept.
Gail Morrison-Hall
Gail Morrison-Hall

Gail Morrison-Hall finds inspiration in old buildings, Victorian Gingerbread architecture, a city or country she's traveled…

Gail Morrison-Hall finds inspiration in old buildings, Victorian Gingerbread architecture, a city or country she's traveled to, medieval manuscripts, the colors and patterns in the natural world, a quote,…

Gail Morrison-Hall finds inspiration in old buildings, Victorian Gingerbread architecture, a city or country she's traveled to, medieval manuscripts, the colors and patterns in the natural world, a quote, phrase, a question…

Jorge Caligiuri
Jorge Caligiuri
Marjorie Grigonis is a painter who has spent 15 years as an art teacher, a professor at several colleges and universities. Currently she works in her studio in Philadelphia, where she belongs to the 3rd Street Gallery, a co-operative which she supports. In the 70's she was a founding member of an artists co-op in NYC. Her work is abstract, both in painting and drawing. They sometimes combine in mixed media with collage. These works may include fragments from the collection of memorabilia in her studio. Her work has been influenced by travel, Morocco, Mexico, and repeated trips to Japan and Europe
Marjorie Grigonis
Marjorie Grigonis

Marjorie Grigonis is a painter who has spent 15 years as an art teacher, a professor at several colleges and universities.…

Marjorie Grigonis is a painter who has spent 15 years as an art teacher, a professor at several colleges and universities. Currently she works in her studio in Philadelphia, where she belongs to the 3rd…

Marjorie Grigonis is a painter who has spent 15 years as an art teacher, a professor at several colleges and universities. Currently she works in her studio in Philadelphia, where she belongs to the 3rd Street Gallery, a…

Laura Demme
Laura Demme
I am primarily a brick sculptor. Using this humble everyday material to create public art connects with a wide audience, particularly in the brick-centric East Coast.
Michael Morgan
Michael Morgan

I am primarily a brick sculptor. Using this humble everyday material to create public art connects with a wide audience,…

I am primarily a brick sculptor. Using this humble everyday material to create public art connects with a wide audience, particularly in the brick-centric East Coast.…

I am primarily a brick sculptor. Using this humble everyday material to create public art connects with a wide audience, particularly in the brick-centric East Coast.…

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