Local artist Lisa Denney is a painter who also designs rugs. As one of the 18 participating artists in “Inspired II: WorkSpace Artists Inspired by the Hunter Museum of American Art Collection,” she merged the two mediums to create a textile wall hanging.
She actually also incorporated photography into her piece. Denney chose a painting called “Rosy Morning” from the Hunter’s collection. She says it reminded her of a photograph she had taken of her backyard garden.
“I wove my piece and also used some paper clay to give it some dimension,” she says. “I used the imagery from my backyard but also the color palette from ‘Rosy Morning.'”
This is the second year of the Inspired project. WorkSpace artists are asked to peruse the Hunter’s permanent collection in search of a piece that will inspire them to create something entirely new. A reception was held on May 5 at Chattanooga WorkSpace, and the pieces will remain in the main gallery there through the end of the month. They include paintings, textiles, photographs and mixed media.
The pieces may be viewed during the week, but WorkSpace is also hosting a free Makers Social on the Patio on Friday from 5:30 to 8:30 p.m. Visitors can tour the entire space, including the main gallery, where the Inspired pieces are, and the artists’ studios.
For “Inspired II,” many of the artists used the opportunity to challenge themselves by not only using another art piece as inspiration but also by working in a medium they’d never worked in before.
Janet Campbell Bradley chose the museum’s fence, which was designed by artist Albert Paley, as her inspiration. It was originally installed in 1975 to connect the old mansion with the then-new addition. The fence’s designer had preciously worked in jewelry, which is Bradley’s normal medium. For the project, she created a triptych using printmaking, something she’d never done.
“These are done through a printing press where you actually paint the ink onto a template, and you roll that onto a printing press with paper,” she says.
She also incorporated sections of a map of the Tennessee River from 1974.
Photographer Jenny Shugart also created a triptych, basing hers on Gordon Parks’ 1942 piece “American Gothic, Washington D.C.” Instead of holding a pitchfork like the white couple in Grant Wood’s “American Gothic,” the African-American woman in the print is flanked by a mop and broom.
Shugart’s piece centers on an old magazine ad she’d saved from the ’90s featuring a young girl under text that reads: “She’s good — for a girl,” with “for a girl” marked through.
She says the project was fun, inspiring, scary “and a few more things thrown in.”
“It was fun to be able to go over to the Hunter. If you haven’t been over there, go. It’s a real gem for the city.”
For his piece, muralist Kevin Bate incorporated live video, video screen and a large painting he based on the “Ruth Gleaning” statue by Randolph Rogers. During the May 5 reception, the painting was on the second floor and shown to viewers remotely via the video feed.
This story was originally in the Times Free Press. Written by Barry Courter.