Sunday, May 15, 2011

Twist Art Gallery shares Lauren Krusso's pretty flowers

Twist Art Gallery shares Lauren Krusso's pretty flowers
12:35 PM, May. 12, 2011

An installation view of Lauren Kussro's A Joyous Outpouring, on view at Twist Art Gallery through May 28. SUBMITTED

Written by
MiChelle Jones | For The Tennessean
Entertainment Arts & Culture
If You Go

What: A Joyous Outpouring, new sculptural and cut-paper works by Lauren Kussro
Where: Twist Art Gallery, Arcade #73
When: Through May 28
Hours: 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Friday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Saturday.
Admission: Free
Contact: 1-888-535-5286 or

Friday afternoon in the Arcade, less than 36 hours before the First Saturday Art Crawl, the upstairs gallery spaces were abuzz with activity. Walls were being painted, work was being hung, labels affixed. At Twist Art Gallery, Lauren Kussro was painting a wall in preparation for A Joyous Outpouring, on view through May 28, her third exhibition at the gallery.

Her previous shows were called The Luminous Bower and Handful of Tranquility, similarly expressive titles reflecting Kussro’s exploration of beauty and the aesthetics of her singular combination of printmaking and sculpture.

Kussro also likes to counter what she sees as a trend in contemporary art of downplaying the relevance of beauty. Quoting a Thomas Moore essay, she talks of the necessity of nurturing the human soul.

“My work has always been about beauty,” Kussro explains. “I think it’s necessary for beauty to exist. … I feel like it’s my responsibility as an artist to use my gifts to benefit others.”

Beauty in bloom

An overwhelming sense of beauty emanates from a floating garden of 10 handmade flower sculptures suspended in one corner of the gallery. In combinations of cream and deep red, purple and teal, orange and red, blue and white, each flower sits on its own bed of leaves.

These lotus-like flowers (they are of an indeterminate species, from Kussro’s imagination) follow a process similar to the one Kussro uses to create the four lit wall pieces placed around the gallery’s walls.

She starts with a cotton rag paper, a change from the handmade paper she used in her previous work. First, she prints both sides of the paper in a solid color (a different one per side), then prints swirls and loosely based organic shapes on top of the base color. Next, she coats the paper with wax before cutting it into shapes.

Rather than create each piece from bespoke parts, Kussro mixes and matches as she goes along, pulling petals and leaves from her cache of components.

The wall pieces are built around armatures made of oval wood frames covered in paper like pith helmets. Layers of petals and leaves are attached and a compact fluorescent bulb used to light the piece from the underside.

Negative beauty

Kussro also explores the negative side of beauty in A Joyous Outpouring in that she was inspired by the negative spaces and pieces left from where she cut shapes for her sculptural work.

“I was throwing away all these beautiful scraps, so I started saving them all,” she says. She began repurposing them in small, colorful resin-covered collages, or cut out even smaller leaf shapes in various green hues and applied them to gauzy fabric stretched over plywood frames.

Several of these hang in the windows of Twist, onto which Kussro screen-printed still more leaves. Three long paper panels cover the ceiling like banners, forming a lush canopy of green and brown vegetation, also screen-printed.

Three long panels hang in front of a sunny yellow wall in Twist’s inner gallery. Kussro hand-cut the intricate design of swirls and leaves spreading across the paper, working without sketches except to map out a rough suggestion of pattern when she moved from the initial center panel to the outer two.

Again, inspiration came from remnants of her other work.

When she last showed the piece in Indiana, where she lives, she put it in front a white wall to play up the shadows cast by the cutouts. Then, the white paper blended in with the white backdrop; for Twist’s presentation, she wanted to use the contrast of a different wall color.

“I really liked the negative shapes I was making … so I thought, why not just do a piece that was just cutting and that’s it?”

The elegantly simple result is far more complex than that.