Contemporary Artists Explore Deeply Personal and Surreal Narratives

Three artists explore subconscious narratives through painting, animation, and ceramics.

by Nathaniel Ainley
12 January 2017, 6:30pm

Jennifer Levonian. Images courtesy the Adams and Ollman Gallery

One of the effects of surrealism is an abiding sense of the social rituals and traditions that control one’s culture. It is through painting, animation, and sculpture that artists like Alicia Gibson, Jennifer Levonian, and Bruce M. Sherman interrogate endemic social protocol and cultural mindsets. In a collective exhibition at the Adams and Ollman Gallery, the three contemporary artists scrutinize the minutiae of daily life through deeply personalized surrealist narratives.

Gibson presents a new group of works that handle a combination of painting, textile, and the written word. Amongst her paint’s expressive blemishes are written phrases like, "Keep It Real," and "Got In This Game On Some Rambling Shit," a title taken from a Lil' Kim lyric from a Mobb Deep song. The artist says the content of her work stems from personal experience, which makes each canvas an intimate and vulnerable mirror into her life.

Alicia Gibson

Sherman’s ceramic vases and pots are adorned with anthropomorphic characteristics like lips and eyes. The artist tinkers with these facial features to explore "subconscious narratives." The gallery says the sculptures, “become studies in surface and vanity, as well as character and humor.”

Bruce M. Sherman

Philly native Levonian creates vibrant and painstakingly-detailed animations from hundreds of individual paintings. Her animated works tend to follow a central female character who, in some form or another, gets confronted by stereotypes and cliché social circumstances. Her Xylophone feature for the Adams and Ollman exhibition demonstrates the particular perspective of a sleep-deprived pregnant woman who impulsively steals a goat from a petting zoo. Watch a short preview of the animation below: 

Jennifer Levonian

Jennifer Levonian

Alicia Gibson

Bruce M. Sherman

To learn more about the show, head over to the Adams and Ollman website.


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