Feature Project: with curator Tracy McKenna
Alignments at Flinn Gallery in CT is a three-person exhibition featuring abstract work by Meghan Brady, Ben Godward, and Erika Ranee, curated by Tracy McKenna. The work triangulates around shapes and strata. It runs through January 26th, 2022.
Tell me about the genesis of this group show.
In 2019 I curated a show for Able Baker Contemporary, an artist-run space in Portland, Maine. Meghan Brady came to the opening and introduced herself saying, “You sometimes curate at the library in the town where I grew up.” I had been a fan of Meghan’s for a few years, following her work online, and had seen the paper paintings she made during a residency at TSA-NY. We followed up by email and phone about bringing her work “home” from Maine. The Greenwich Library was about to enter an extended construction project so I knew that I had time to put something special together for the re-opening. A global pandemic wasn’t on anyone’s radar.
What is your curatorial vision for the exhibition?
With Meghan as the starting point, and knowing that we were working quite a bit ahead, I wanted to put her in dialogue with new art peers, showing newly made art. I also wanted to keep to a small number of artists. A smaller group, with plenty of breathing space around the work, allows each of the artists to shine in a way that large group shows do not. Larger groups are great for themes, but here I wanted the focus to be on the artists and the conversations their work sparks across the room.
I focused on the internal structure of Meghan’s paintings, looking at the abstract shapes and brighter colors she uses. My short list of possible pairings was narrowed down to Ben Godward and Erika Ranee. These artists all work within an abstract framework, with content that reveals itself slowly and demands longer viewing. Erika, like Meghan, begins with broad gestures on the floor. Studio detritus works its way into her work, echoing Meghan’s re-use of an older paper painting that’s been collaged into her new piece. Ben’s pigmented urethane resin sculptures add a necessary sharp edge and highly chromatic energy. Three is definitely a magic number.
With the ongoing pandemic beginning mid-planning, my hoped-for 2020 show jumped forward a year, but seems to have led to significant studio-as-therapy time. “Newly made” turned into “just barely dry upon arrival” as all three artists created new large-scale work for Alignments. There’s a palpable sense of joy and excitement inside the gallery as we move through another winter solstice and holiday season with so many unknowns just outside the door.
Alignments at Flinn Gallery December 16, 2021 – January 26, 2022
Tracy McKenna is a bicoastal independent curator with recent shows at the Flinn Gallery (Greenwich, CT), Able Baker Contemporary (Portland, ME), and Rick Wester Fine Art (Chelsea, NYC). She began her career in the arts with positions at Washington Project for the Arts, the Phillips Collection, and ICA Boston, and served on the board of Franklin Street Works (Stamford, CT).