Featuring Bill Porter, Nygel Jones, Scott Moran, Nick McKnight, Derek Raymond
Live In-Person OPENING EVENT Saturday, April 10th from 5:00-7:00 PM
Virtual Tour to follow.
In April 2021, Coastal Contemporary Gallery features five New England artists who are utilizing a wide variety of media to express perceptions, memory, popular phrases and narrative, through various technique, tool and format. Each artist incorporates text, or subtle reference to it, in their art.
A person stands alone, enclosed in an empty cube-shaped room and begins to speak random words. Everything is there, being something, but until another person views it there is no story. “If a tree falls in the forest….” The observer by nature, begins to attach their own relevance and possibilities to the elements presented. A personal mental Rube Goldberg-like device is constructed and one relation quickly connects to another. The context harnessed formulates the realistic framework for which the content lives within.
Artists manipulate media aka the information, be it audio, visual, written, or movement, and they release it to the world. There might be clear context provided by the maker, or left entirely up to the viewer to piece the puzzle together and decide what all it means. The more dimension that is built around the information, the more it makes sense in time and place. Content ripples and affects the world around it, as it is elevated with the impact of context.
Porter utilizes his platform as a legally blind artist to educate the world about visual impairments by breaking stereotypes about their limitations. In order to track the progression of an image, he focuses on small increments of surface area in lieu of broad sweeping motions as he builds layers of paint onto reclaimed wood and paper. His subjects are lightheartedly narrated. At times, Porter very clearly involves words or catchphrases that are boldly illustrated in cartoon font. On other occasions, he omits the text and guides the viewer’s gaze with directional arrows or dotted lines. Examined closely we will find tiny words printed on book pages hiding under acrylic house paint, almost as if the artist has invited us to discover what it might be like to see through the blur of a compromised lens.
Influenced by hardcore punk rock and time spent visiting his brother in Berlin, Raymond’s work is “largely informed by graffiti, urban typography, and other classic elements of city life.” Within his practice of abstraction and mark-making he finds analogy between the layers of vandalized surfaces that have been built up and peeled back, to the construction and deconstruction of the urban landscape. Raymond like Porter, will incorporate simplified, graphic references to common objects in a playful cartoon-like manner. We are on a journey with the artist as he shifts through his personal history in time and space.
McKnight bends glass and light, blended with assembled mixed media to express fragments of poems, stories and phrases that provoke and nudge response on a personal level through the collective experience. His clear use of text and metaphor tugs on our “shared anxieties and insecurities in a fast-paced world.” The artist is acutely aware of the effects of toxic positivity on our cultural climate in additional to the rapid decline of earth’s ability to sustain our destructive human ways. As the snarky penguin of Madagascar would say: “Smile and wave boys…..”
Jones draws upon childhood memories and family roots of music, engineering and construction. His wall mounted paintings that are very sculptural in both material and process, evoke images of thought bubbles in comic books or the bold lines that encapsulate graffitied lettering. Jones, often working in a series of four, likens the frames around his imagery to the repetition of a beat or note on a musical scale. The direct subject matter may be presented as a fragmented landscape or a colorful arrangement of geometric peaks and valleys.
A multidisciplinary artist, Moran focuses on two evolving series “SPARE CHANGE?” and “anything helps”. Moran uses raw everyday objects discarded and left unwanted from the material world. These resources act as the canvas for his work and the streets become his gallery. Nailing cardboard to telephone posts, his terse and often pun-laden messages act as ‘paper-tweets’. He employs the assistance of his little boy on walks through neighborhoods allowing him to affix the sign language and continue on. This impulsive art is created quickly and without the personal touch of handwriting, removing any sense of individual. Moran spray paints stenciled words, phrases and sometimes the silhouette of George Washington. He also will incorporate existing words that are pre-printed on packaging to ask his questions. He wonders if it is possible to change people’s viewpoints as he voices concerns surrounding his personal struggles of living paycheck to paycheck while simultaneously addressing the broader issues of capitalism, over-consumption and imbalance.
Massachusetts native and resident, Bill Porter, holds an MFA in Visual Arts from Lesley Art + Design and a BFA in Animation and Minor in Film Studies from the University of Massachusetts, Amherst. Since earning his MFA in January of 2015 Porter has served as an Adjunct Professor in the Animation and Motion Media Department at Lesley Art + Design in Cambridge MA.
Porter is a multidisciplinary visual artist whose studio practice investigates the structure and influence of storytelling. He has worked in a variety of mediums including illustration, photography, and filmmaking. In his current practice Porter primarily works within the realm of painting where he layers acrylic house paint and book pages on reclaimed wood. Recent gallery exhibitions include Chandler Gallery, New Arts Center, Manifest Gallery, Thomas Young Gallery and Gallery 263.
Porter lives with a progressive retinal disorder that limits his visual field, ability to see in low and bright light as well as other aspects of his vision. Porter aims to use his platform as a legally blind artist to educate the world about visual impairments by breaking stereotypes about their limitations.
Derek Raymond is a graphic designer and self-taught mixed media artist based in Providence, RI. After discovering graffiti in his teenage years, primed by years under the influence of hardcore punk rock, various practices of self-expressive mark making became an obsession that would set the course of his adult life. Meeting other artists gave the opportunity to soak up knowledge, paint together, and deepen his personal relationship with art. This led to studying graphic design and earning a Bachelors degree in graphic design and digital media from Johnson & Wales University. After college, Derek found a new passion in traveling, and found the energy of traveling internationally sparked a level of creative inspiration that has remained unmatched. While his brother lived in Berlin for almost 10 years, Derek visited as much as possible and cites Berlin as being the most influential element in his life from a creative development standpoint. Derek has now begun a thoughtful and intentional move to his studio painting practice. He strives for refinement and development of his personal style. His work is largely informed by graffiti, urban typography, and other classic elements of city life.
Nick McKnight is a multimedia artist living and working in Haverhill, MA. He has a BFA from the University of Rhode Island and has exhibited throughout New England and has been in publications such as Artscope magazine and the South County Independent. Nick works as a neon bender and sign fabricator in Somerville, MA and uses the craft of glass bending as a major aspect of his work.
I graduated with a BFA in Interdisciplinary Arts from Montserrat College of Art in 2015 studying sculpture, painting and other forms of fabrication. Post-graduation, I've dedicated my spare now full-time to making work. My influences making art derives from family roots through music, engineering and construction. I Also draw inspiration from memories of my childhood hobbies and interests. Other Influences include forms of industrial design that consists of cars, musical instruments, interior and architecture.
Scott Moran is a multidisciplinary artist based in Providence, Rhode Island. In “SPARE CHANGE?” and “anything helps,” two evolving series in development since 2011, Moran uses his own daily agita — living paycheck to paycheck most days, beyond his means on others — to create evocative work by way of everyday materials, including cardboard, spray paint and roadside refuse.
The artist, who also goes by the moniker @Highdollarart, hopes his work provokes thought and conversation about the imbalances created by capitalism, workforce casualization and soaring costs of living in our consumerist world.
A BIT ABOUT EACH OF SCOTT MORAN'S WORKS:
Assorted Cardboard Signs, 2020–2021
The silhouettes on cardboard are modeled after the “Lansdowne” portrait of George Washington after the signing of the controversial Jay Treaty, as painted by famed artist and Rhode Island native, Gilbert Stuart. Stuart, who died in indigence, painted the first president on numerous occasions, including his portrait on the $1 bill. The president’s likeness — pervasive yet anonymized in silhouette — evokes national paternalism and currency, both socioeconomic and political. In these works, the text carries the significance; George is merely accepting or presenting, the former a central theme of Moran’s anything helps series and the latter of the SPARE CHANGE series, both in development since 2011.
Check Engine, 2019
Over cardboard, the artist casts in bronze (spray paint) an enduring symbol of anxiety and financial impotence for the working class.
I Learned It From Watching You, 2018
This piece is a play on a 1980s anti-marijuana commercial. We depend on the television to help us develop important life skills and, likewise, the television markets a vision of “self” back to us for purchase. Who learns what from whom?
Donation Box I, II, III, 2020
Giving or getting: Which side of the box are you on? Donation boxes cast in stone and bronze (spray paint) represent the sanctioned act of institutional giving, while cardboard — an homage to sign-flying — contemplates the stigma of need on an individual level.
The artist considers the figure and the shadow, the former representing a person in financial need and the latter an emblem of their depersonalization by society.