North Texas Daily

Knick Knack Gallery showcases the individuality of seven artists

Knick Knack Gallery showcases the individuality of seven artists

Knick Knack Gallery showcases the individuality of seven artists
March 28
08:27 2017

Knick Knack Gallery opened its doors to the public on March 8, at Voertman’s Gallery. Curated by Betsey Gravatt, the exhibition showcased seven artists’ lives through objects that have a great deal of meaning to them but have been somewhat forgotten.

Using knick knacks as the core center of the gallery, Gravatt put together a show that would not just reveal each artist’s lives but would also show a broad range of skills.

“I chose artists whose work I thought embodied the theme, and I also wanted artists working in different media,” Gravatt said. “Some are printmakers, painters [or] photographers. I wanted a variety.”

Being an artist herself, Gravatt’s experience as showcasing her own work and being a showcaser helped guide her in the direction she wanted the show to go.

Having assisted in multiple shows before, Gravatt was excited to curate Knick Knack on her own.

“It was a little more labor intensive because of the amount of work included and the number of artists, but it was fun and totally worth all of the work,” Gravatt said. “Participating in exhibitions gave me some insight into what is usually expected of the artists.”

One artist showcased in the exhibit is Augustine Cordero, a graduate from UNT with a Bachelor of Fine Arts. He oversees the Voertman’s Art Department and Gallery. Having known Betsey prior to the show, Cordero was approached by her to be a part of the Knick Knack Gallery.

Cordero chose to use his childhood toys as the knick knacks for his pieces, specifically action figures.

“The toys were remnants of a larger collection I had sold for a return on my investments a few years back,” Cordero said. “ I reference childhood influences when creating my work.  These influences include cartoons, comics and collectibles.  Most of the time it is a very intuitive process, relying on my memory and cherry-picked experiences.”

His decision to reflect back on his childhood memories allowed Cordero to give the toys new meaning and transform them into an installation that conveyed a message to society. Titled “Got to get Tough,” Codero exhibited a “perfect” male society view to further delve into the male stigma.

“The toys are all paint[ed] to mimic Greek sculptures and pediments of gods,” Cordero said. “These ‘perfect’ males display a kind of pressure upon boys and young men in our society and promote a kind of body dis-morphia that is too often associated with namely feminine socialization.  I wanted to bring more awareness to the male perspective on this subject [because] it represents the struggle to be a strong, brave and tolerant male in today’s society.”

Contrasting Cordero’s approach to Knick Knacks, Joshua Reyes, a 23-year-old student finishing up his degree in Painting and Drawing, went a different direction.

“Betsey contacted me about participating in the show early in the semester,” Reyes said. “I was immediately interested when she gave me the idea behind the knick knack. Inviting the viewer into the mind of the artist in a literal and metaphorical sense was quite fascinating to me, and something that I have always wanted to approach in a direct and informal way.”

Reyes was influenced by the simplicity of knick knacks and saw his past works as a collection of knick knacks.

With that in mind, Reyes went about creating a whole piece from all his works.

“To me, a knick knack evolved from a tangible object into a thought or memory that had enough significance to surface in the creation of my pieces,” Reyes said. “I somewhat appropriated the term knick knack to fit my practice.”

Gravatt’s goal to highlight the variety of artists that participated in the gallery was exemplified by the use of knick knacks because each individual artists had to come up with their own approach.

“It was interesting to me that everyone worked in such different environments and put importance on different items,” Gravatt said.

“[She] definitely sought out artists who exemplify quite a bit of similarities in color, theme and process, and I was one of them,” said Ashlyn Lee, a 20-year-old graduate of Texas Woman’s University who plans to obtain her Master of Fine Arts from Southern Methodist University

Lee saw Knick Knacks as the day-to-day objects she has laying around in her car. As an artist, Lee is constantly moving pieces to and from her car to shows.

Using such objects, Lee created a collage that allowed her viewers to easily immerse themselves and therefore read into the piece.

“My work is about reading into signs and the trickery of art, [and the] objects I chose became part of the works and really played with the colors and form I use,” Lee said. “I think they brought a bit of reality to contrast the abstractions I had created.”

The variety of mediums used by each artist only brought them closer as a group, as they use each other’s strengths to gain more insight into their own artistry.

“[Betsey] and Given McClure, [the head of Voertman’s Gallery], established early on that Knick Knack would be collaborative in its efforts, as each artist helped other artists with installing and finalizing our ideas,” Lee said. “I was most fond of seeing the different interpretations of the theme. Some artists recreated their entire studios, others made it more about the knick knacks.”

Cordero added that finding knick knacks actually became more challenging than he had thought. He said it was also different because he tried to showcase a more personal struggle compared to creating “an almost selfless or ‘cool’ type of artwork.

Gravatt said that each artist portraying something different was one of the things she loved most about the Knick Knack Gallery. The gallery showcased each artist’s talent and lives while also making viewers think about their own personal knick knacks.

“I wanted to put all of these things that are usually kept private into a very public space, and give people more insight into these artists’ lives,” Gravatt said.

Featured Image: Adam Palmer graduated from UNT with his MFA in 2011. His piece displays his printmaking art alongside cheap, colorful toys and packaged papers. Samantha Hardisty

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Sadia Saeed

Sadia Saeed

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