UNRAVEL: Undo, Unwind, Fail, Collapse, Investigate, Solve
Fashion, Fine Art, Live Music
With a weaving path of expanding and contracting, a simple idea took its delicate time developing over the course of summer 2018. Original plans and visions, with the assistance of the universe re-routing Coastal Contemporary Gallery towards chance and connectivity, brought us to our November exhibition, UNRAVEL. This exquisite collaboration features designer and stylist Leslie Grant, designer and painter Taleen Batalian, painter Rebecca Stern, fashion photographer Rob Van Petten and musician and composer Sam Hollister of Aurora Collaborative, with cellist Maia Ashley and harpist Sarah Smith.
Batalian’s extraordinary installation of avant garde fashion merges seamlessly into Grant’s impeccably timeless styling. Stern’s paintings incorporate fabric and thread; sewn lines and robust shapes compliment the fashion in both color and passionate energy. Batalian’s earth toned encaustics solidify a delicate balance between cloth and paint.
A local resident stopped into the gallery to share his ties to our building. The conversation turned into an invitation as our guest Rob Van Petten revealed his vast experience in the world of fashion photography. Van Petten shows off his prowess in a stunning image of NYC model Jessica Clements tethered on cord, suspended upside down. A fortuitous meeting with composer Sam Hollister of Aurora Collaborative, produced a unique opportunity to fuse all elements of UNRAVEL with live music. Hollister will conduct newly written and composed pieces based upon his personal inspiration derived from the title of this exhibit. Cellist Maia Ashley and harpist Sarah Smith will reveal their talents and the magic of these two large stringed instruments during the opening reception on Friday, November 9th from 5-8 PM.
Leslie Grant is a stylist and designer who encourages others to learn their authentic style of dress and to embrace self-expression through clothing.
Leslie earned her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Apparel Design at the Rhode Island School of Design in Providence, RI. Throughout her lifetime she has maintained her passion for art and fashion. While living in the Carolinas, Leslie headed the art department of North Hills Christian School in NC, taught numerous art workshops at the local museums and libraries and taught sewing lessons at a local community college. She also maintained Leslie Grant Designs, a custom apparel company. Since relocating to RI, Leslie has worked as a personal stylist, sold her designs at women’s clothing boutiques and taught fashion workshops at RISD Project Open Door and other after school programs.
Leslie Grant’s design concept is to combine simple silhouettes, layers and textures to create unique, timeless looks. Her styling philosophy is simply this: keep it authentic.
Sam Hollister is a conductor, pianist, and composer born and raised in Rhode Island, and the artistic director of Aurora Collaborative based in RI. His conducting pursuits have spanned the orchestral (e.g. Tchaikovsky's Symphony No. 4), choral (Rachmaninoff's All-Night Vigil), theatrical (Sondheim's Merrily We Roll Along), and combined (Mozart's Requiem) worlds, and have taken him around the globe, from Rhode Island to Connecticut to Austria to Ukraine to South Africa.
As a pianist, Sam grew up playing chamber music around Rhode Island. He developed a deep passion not only for the chamber repertoire, but also for collaboration with other musicians. Sam sees Aurora Collaborative as an opportunity not only to make the chamber program experience more engaging and rewarding for its musicians, but also to expand the definition of "concert" and to reach people all across the state and southern New England in exciting venues. As artistic director of the organization, Sam's experiences as a composer, conductor, teacher, and arts administrator lend themselves to unlocking paths for any group of musicians to collaborate—in any setting.
As a conductor and teacher of music, Sam's fundamental message and mission relate to connecting the academia-trapped theory and philosophy of music to the real-world emotional relationship that performers, audience members, and listeners have with it. Music theory traditionally is seen as technical and mathematical: without feeling or purpose. Sam strives to show people that a greater knowledge of how and why music works the way it does enhances one's musical, emotional, and personal experience immensely. In this way, theory and practice are intertwined in emotion—not mutually exclusive.
I started playing piano at about five years old. I would listen to classical music on a daily basis. I wrote and sang my own songs before I knew how to read. Soon music became my entertainment, as well as my whole identity. I started performing at recitals at age seven. Though piano had its struggles, I eventually went on to play saxophone at age 10, cello at age 12, singing at 14, and guitar at 16. I am currently working on performing music, as well as writing my own. I have future plans on recording, and adding the organ to my musical repertoire for work.
Sarah & Alysa Smith
Mother & Daughter Harpists
Taleen Batalian is a multi-disciplinary artist and educator. Her most recent projects include a collaborative performance installation at the RISD Museum in Providence, RI and a solo exhibition, GRAFT (Fall 2017), a site-specific installation of sculptural garments, paintings and video at The Weil Gallery, Wheaton College in Norton, MA.
Taleen is a faculty member at Rhode Island School of Design’s Continuing Education program. She also teaches at art museums and arts associations throughout New England. Previously, she was the Director of Education for Providence CityArts for Youth, a Providence-based arts organization.
Rebecca Stern is an artist living and working in Stamford, CT. She graduated with honors from Lesley University College of Art and Design in 2009. Her work is numerous private collections and she has participated in solo and group exhibitions across the country for the past 10 years. Rebecca uses acrylic paint, collage, thread and drawing materials to produce her abstract work. She considers each piece a "mental landscape" that investigates the complexities of the mind. She is intrigued by the juxtaposition of intentionality and expressive freedom that exists within the materiality of different mediums and the process it takes to find a balance.
Rob Van Petten
Rob Van Petten shoots fashion and lifestyle for advertising and editorial. His photographs are a dynamic play of models in motion. Metallic texture, modern architecture, cosmic lighting and computer manipulation all contribute to the effects in his images. The use of light energizes the images beyond just illuminating the scene.
Rob grew up in a Navy family and travelled extensively. He began to document his family travels in Japan at age 10. At 12 he borrowed his father's Nikon and never gave it back. He has been heavily influenced by Japanese design.
Rob received a photojournalism degree from Boston University's School of Public Communications, and later returned to become the Photography Program director at the Boston University Center for Digital Imaging Arts.
His award-winning commercial work helped to build brand identities for Timberland, Solomon Skis, Avirex, Tommy Hilfiger, Etonic, Robert Mondavi, American Optical, Rockport, Levis, Converse, Gillette, and Clairol among others. He has shot a series of large format print images for Proctor & Gamble, a website for Reebok, and the promotional images for Nikon’s D3X and D800 camera.
Rob speaks regularly on digital imaging topics for the American Photo Mentor Series, at the Photo Plus Expo and PMA. Recently his articles have appeared in Nikon World, Kodak Pro Pass and Digital Photo Pro. Rob’s images lead us to a safer more whimsical vision of the future, where modern is amusing and the fashion is more fun.
A statement from Sam Hollister of Aurora Collaborative:
‘Our student performers for this event are Maia Ashley (cello) and Sarah Smith (harp). The centerpiece of their repertoire for this event is a suite aptly entitled Unravel by Sam Hollister, the artistic director of Aurora Collaborative. Here is a word about the piece from the composer:
Unravel is an unassuming narrative-driven realization, for harp and cello, of my idea of the word "unravel." Meant to play into subconscious notions of what it means to unravel, the multi-movement suite represents an image of water "unravelling" in several phases. Through the piece's development, we see water develop through several phases: naive, formative drops; a quaint and familiar pond; a mighty force of nature; fragility and transience; evaporation; and, ultimately, a reincorporation of its unraveled fibers as the cycle restarts. The water image is meant to act as an allegory, with the piece ultimately getting at the fundamental and intangible feeling behind the cycle of something weaving and unravelling over and over again.’