Interior characteristics often differ from surface qualities. A young ‘tween might be sassy and defiant, yet under the skin of these choices, she can possess a very sweet nature. Artwork is the same way. The visceral, visual qualities of the language can be as opaque as all the challenges we experience when we try to “read” the people around us. It takes time.—Karen Fitzgerald, Curator of “Under the Skin.”
I am a member of two artist collectives, both operating as part of the SHIM Art Network. Pell Lucy is the collective I put together three months ago (more about that project here.) I am also a member of Spliced Connector, a group assembled by my good friend and colleague, Karen Fitzgerald.
While Pell Lucy’s raison d’être is its commitment to the intelligence of form—“ an intelligence far deeper and more complex than conscious, discursive thought”—Spliced Connector has a different ethos:
Spliced Connector is an artist collective based on the idea that multigenerational diversity enriches creativity and expression for everyone. Started by artists affiliated with Long Island University, Spliced now openly advocates for unexpected collaborations, intergenerational connection and vibrant art making.
Karen came up with this idea while teaching at LIU Post earlier this year. As pandemic shutdowns thwarted exhibit and career options for new graduates, Karen saw a way to create community between existing artists and newly minted ones. In an effort to be more interactive than traditional mentoring programs, Karen partnered older artists with younger ones as a way to mutually expand and enrich.
Many artists (like me) are introverts who prefer the privacy of a studio where work can happen in solitude. So yes, I have had a C. S. Lewis “surprised by joy” response to getting to know a young and vital artist, Kandi Spindler. The Spliced Connector credo of cross generational pollination isn’t just a slogan: How else could I have become friends with an artist who has described herself this way: “Katherine Spindler is an MFA student and public defender practicing in Nassau County, New York. As the child of a New Yorker and West Virginian, she’s a gaudy mashup of glitter, coal dust, high heels and diet mountain dew. Her art is more or less the same.”
Spliced Connector has just launched its second online exhibit on Artsy: Under the Skin.
From the Under the Skin curatorial statement:
The skin of an artwork is literally the top layer, the last effort to shape something with this language in the process of making it. Often, we are allowed to see beneath this particular kind of skin. The layer may be partial; it may be transparent, or translucent. In the hands of a skilled artist, this kind of probing can last a good while. It can take us deeply into the work.
The skin of an artwork is also its covering; its protective layer. When artwork holds provocation, or challenges long-held associations, the confederacy of intimations is sometimes inviolable. This kind of skin may not invite us in. It may turn us away; color might be distasteful, representational content might signal a realm we don’t wish to explore. This kind of skin can be powerful.
We have so many ways to consider the layers of a work of art, and so many ways to consider the layers of life. We navigate complexity instinctively, in our daily lives and when we encounter works of art. The exhibits I tend to respond to most are those that bring those distinct domains into a fluid, dreamlike comingling.
Below is a sampling from the show. You can see the entire exhibit here.