In an effort to more fully understand the faces behind some of the works in the Museum’s most recent exhibition, Uncommon Territory: Contemporary Art in Alabama, the MUSES teen council had the opportunity to meet and interview three artists about their work: Jamey Grimes, Amy Pleasant, and Pete Schulte.
About the MUSES
The MUSES is a teen council that meets on Wednesday afternoons to enjoy creative experiences in the galleries and coordinate art events for teens in Montgomery. To learn how to represent your school and become part of the MUSES, please contact Elisabeth Palmer at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 334.240.4362.
About the Artist
Painter and sculptor Amy Pleasant lives and works in Birmingham. She received her BFA from the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her MFA at the Tyler School of Art in Philadelphia, PA. In 2009, she moved back to Birmingham. Her work focuses on specific fractions of the human body.
All my work has always been about the figure so I’m really interested in gesture and repetitive gesture. And my practice is also about repetition so I draw like these are all part of a series called Seated. The original installation was actually 15 so this is 9 of the original 15.
Is there any particular reason for the lack of heads and most the arms and legs?
In a lot of my work, I might only do heads or I might only do torsos or I might only do feet, legs or hands. I’m usually focusing on a specific fraction so all of those things are being explored but in separate bodies of work.
So would you say this is more like a study or is there some sort of meaning?
Yeah, they’re all studies of the body. But they’re not studies in the sense that I would say as preliminary works for something else. They are what they are.
Was the choice of a more feminine form deliberate or was it an accident?
Oh, that’s a very good question because a lot of my work for a long time was about an androgynous figure. I wasn’t interested in being able to tell this is a female, this is a male. I wanted it to be kind of anybody, everybody body. The female form is actually pretty new like in the last year I’ve specifically been making female figures but overall in my whole body of work, I really want it to be about humans, human figures, and gestures.
Can you talk a little bit more about why you gendered your figures?
It was really important for me to make some very specific, strong female figures in the work that weren’t sexualized but that were clearly female forms.
As the night came to a close, a unifying theme came into view: the question of meaning; what does art really mean? What does it mean to you? As contemporary artists, this is a question that each artist has asked themselves during their respective practices.
It was evident that the focus of the artworks was to pose a question to the viewer, to make an ambiguous statement and force the viewer to think deeply about what they are being asked.
Sometimes, art can be interpreted as a statement, like Peter Schulte’s piece, Humanist Flag, or Tomorrow Gon’ Be Too Late. Other times, it’s a question like Jamey Grimes’ piece, Roil. And yet art can also be a reflection of life, like Amy Pleasant’s series Seated. We greatly appreciate and thank these artists for taking their time to help us explore Uncommon Territory.