Professor’s Exhibit in Asheville Offers "Rowdy, Southern good time"
The Flood Gallery in Asheville, NC is exhibiting a new body of screen-prints on wood panel and paper by Converse art professor Andrew Blanchard. Described by Blanchard as offering viewers “a rowdy, Southern good time via a ride through the heart of Dixie full of gangstas, good ole’ boys, and gothic hardscrabble,” the SouthernGoodShit exhibition continues through August 28. Visit the gallery website for information and directions.
This is Blanchard’s first show at the Flood Gallery, and his first solo show in Asheville. The works on display, produced over the last year, reflect Blanchard’s investigation into Southern culture coupled with an honest look at historical stereotypes, symbols and folklore. This journey began a few years ago and led to three photo silkscreen prints from his Southern Gothic suite being published in New American Paintings magazine last summer.
The visuals in the exhibition not only document, they narrate an homage to the sanctity of the outer-fringe, do-it-yourself, make or brake attitude that continually maintains the Southern states’ soul aesthetic. At it’s core, social, economical, and familial motivations also thrive throughout this body of work, creating a hopeful dialogue for the viewer to question issues such as the blurred lines between an urban, country, and rural way of Southern life, white and black flight, and the stereotypical symbols that plague and personify the lore of the past.
“I document all my own images—they are taken from travels throughout the lowest of the 48 states—then I photo screen print them,” says Blanchard. “I have become really fascinated with surface texture and the non-representational.”
One piece in the show, County Line/Urban Limit, is the largest work Blanchard has ever created. A wood panel mounted screen-print in three sections, it spans 4 feet high by 12 feet long. “It’s core concept deals with the blurred lines between rural, country, and urban Southern life—the after effects of ‘white flight’ and how that is mixing with the more contemporary practice, ‘black flight.’ I think it tackles socio-economical aspects that we all know exist, though we just don’t speak about. You read about it, and now, I want to show it in a 2D way of examining Southern culture.”
Throughout his exploration of Southern culture, Blanchard drew from his roots as a Mississippi native and from research of books, documents and oral histories. “I continue to read historical Southern Gothic literature, as well as new prose, such as Salvage the Bones by Jesmyn Ward, a fellow Mississippian who recently won the best fiction award. As she states in so many words, ‘you know the South is a complex, aggravating place full of all of the usual suspects, but you feel so attached to it. If you are from here, you know it in your bones, your being.’ Welty, Faulkner, and Brown all state the same thing,” he says.
Blanchard’s painterly, photographic take on printmaking has allowed his work to be collected throughout the United States, as well as in Hawaii, France, Bulgaria, South Korea, and the United Kingdom. His prints have been included in over one hundred national and international juried printmaking exhibitions. Recently, several of his prints were included in Schiffer Publishing’s Printmakers Today, as well as the 2011 Southern Edition of New American Paintings magazine. In 2012, he was also selected by Oxford American magazine as one of the New Superstars of Southern Art.