Artistic Journey: Erin McGee Ferrell — Philadelphia/Maine urban architectural artist. Conway Sun. Pace Gallery, Fryeburg Maine. Philadelphia-Artist.com
Published Date: Friday, 30 January 2015 07:27
A trip to Fryeburg to explore what’s on view at the Pace Gallery was long overdure when I ventured over in the frigid, sparkly morning this past week. As is often the case, exploring art brought up a heartening connection between my heart and the mind, this time because of my own connections to both Philadelphia and Maine. Several of my significant life events took place in Philadelphia, and I lived in Maine for 25 years, with trips over that time to New Hampshire. So wandering over the border to learn about Erin McGee Ferrell’s work brought several threads of my own life together.
Add to that that architectural paintings are favorites of mine, and I luxuriated in the show on view at the Pace Gallery in the Laura Eastman Performance Center at Fryeburg Academy. It was also fun to listen to a student practice playing Debussy’s “Clair de Lune.” What could be better?
“My Paintings are not created behind closed doors. They are created on the streets of Philadelphia. I stand my easel on the Ben Franklin Bridge, the Art Museum steps, and on the sidewalks of the Italian Market.”
There are few artists who render the urban landscape outdoors, and fewer still who do so with the grit and liveliness of Ferrell. Begun with an underlayment, generally, of pink oil on handstretched canvas, these paintings exude a living, breathing quality which, juxtaposed with the man-made structures as subject matter, magnetizes the viewer. When you view Ferrell’s work, you feel the thrill and rush of the city combined with the history and culture of Philadelphia with all its gusto, richness and rambunctiousness.
These works also attract us because they contain the energy derived from Ferrell’s life stage when she painted them.
“This show is all about transitioning from Philadepelphia to Maine,” Ferrell explains. “Going from a place where I loved and was extremely rooted to a new place reluctlantly. An urban artist now living in Maine, I still crave the gritty and architectural details of large cities. There is gain and loss in every change. Moving is always difficult; yet growth emerges from stretching out of one’s comfort zone.” Indeed, in viewing this body of work, one can witness the shift in emphasis of her palette as well as the subject matter. Contrasting the primary palette of the Philadelphiawork, as she emphasizes, the recent Maine paintings have new color richness, such as the Lobster series, and become interestingly thoughtful. Erin concludes, “Perhaps the entire collection of art communicates the message of maturity gained through difficulty.”
Ferrell also explains that the Lega Mask in Gallery II was given to her by her father who collects African Art. The highlighted eyes, which are the focus of the ceremonial mask, “speak to me of looking at a situation with new eyes.” The large painting she created, based on the mask, “is the keystone work of this show, and is the transitional marker for my artistic journey from Philadelphia to Maine.” Ferrell’s educational journey writ large itself is interesting.
Beginning with a bachelor’s of fine art in studio art and African studies at Mount Holyoke Cum Laude, she also studied Nigerian culture in an art immersion project there, and studied at the school for international training in Brattleboro, Vt. as well as in the Italian art and language immersion project in Perugia, Italy. She has continued her education in workshops at the Maine College of Art professional development series and Photoshop workshops there, as well as in the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, in figure painting. She was a student of Baltimorerealist Robert White, studying Flemish black oil Painting, as well as a number of other workshops for emerging artists. Her work is in a number of private and public collections, including the permanent collection of the African Museum Art and Culture in Portland, Maine, the AtlantiCare Hospitals, Promise International, Camden Forward School, and the Beverly Hospital, Beverly, Massachusetts. Her work is published in several books: “Ships and Sails: An Ephemeral Landscape,” “Erin McGee Ferrell Philadelphia/Portland, Maine”; “Painting Philadelphia Cheese Steak Structures: Urban and Coastal”; and also websites Erin McGee Ferrell.com, Philadelphia-Artist.com.
The Pace Galleries always contain high quality and fascinating exhibitions, and this one is no exception. In fact, I would could count Philadelphia/Maine Urban Architectural Artist: Works by Erin McGee Ferrell among an exceptional body of work created by a generative and exciting artist new to the area, thereby inspiring all artists to reach beyond their comfort zone.
Philadelphia/Maine Urban Architectural Artist:
Works by Erin McGee Ferrell
November 8, 2014 – March 13, 2015
Erin McGee Ferrell’s large scale, hand- stretched, oil paintings capture urban architectural views. Painted on location, Erin McGee Ferrell combines the classical traditions of oil painting and media/blog/video documentation. The artist collaborates with photographers in the LIVE Public painting experience. Erin McGee Ferrell’s recent work has focused on the merging of urban and coastal architectural structures in Philadelphia and Maine. She studied
oil painting at Mount Holyoke College, Pennsylvania Academy of Art, University of the Arts Philadelphia, and attended classes in Italy and in Nigeria. Collectors include TD Ameritrade, AtlantiCare New Jersey, and Jones Lang LaSalle Americas, INC. Philadelphia.
For more information on Erin McGee Ferrell visit www.philadelphia-artist.com
The exhibition, as always, is free and open to the public.
Our facility is wheelchair accessible.