News . Press Releases
October 03, 2019
Cleveland Institute of Art
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CLEVELAND—The figure has seen a resurgence in contemporary art in recent years, although it arguably never truly left the popular ethos. At its worst, figurative art is seen as conservative, traditional, and overly sentimental, but at its best it seeks to express the complexities of what it means to live in the world today. In a time where bodies and identity are sites for political and social contention, it is no surprise that artists are turning to this convention with innovation and intellectual vigor. Featuring work by Natalia Arbelaez, Julie Heffernan, Haley Josephs, and Devan Shimoyama, Getting to Know You presents the viewer with a convivial invitation to get to know yourself through the lens of others. Pulling from a well of source material that includes the art historical, the personal, the mystical, and the pop cultural, these artists approach their work with a mixture of humor, sincerity, and dynamism.
Julie Heffernan is an American painter whose artwork has been described by the writer Rebecca Solnit as "a new kind of history painting" and by The New Yorker as "ironic rococo surrealism with a social-satirical twist." Portraiture is in fact not the dominant subject in Heffernan’s painting at all; she uses the term Self-Portrait to remind herself and viewers that the places and circumstances she invents in her paintings are extremely subjective takes on a world gone awry. Heffernan was raised in Northern California, received her Bachelor of Fine Arts in Painting and Printmaking from the University of California at Santa Cruz, and earned a Master of Fine Arts degree at Yale School of Art and Architecture. She is a Professor of Fine Arts at Montclair State University and currently lives in Brooklyn, New York. She has been represented by Catharine Clark Gallery since 2005.
Haley Josephs was born in 1987 in Seattle. She earned her BFA from Tyler School of Art at Temple University in 2011 and her MFA from Yale University in 2014. Josephs has exhibited locally and internationally. She was included in Painting Forward at Thomas Erben Gallery in New York in 2016; Broke Baroque at Sanctuary Projects in Pennsylvania in 2014; and Inaugural at 321 Gallery in New York in 2014. Josephs received the Alfred L. MacDougal and Nancy Lauter Scholarship in 2014. She lives and works in Brooklyn, New York.
Devan Shimoyama is a visual artist whose work explores depictions of the black, queer, male body. Though he sometimes employs a variety of other mediums, Shimoyama primarily focuses on painting, specifically portraiture. His compositions are inspired by those of classical painters of the past, such as Francisco Goya and Caravaggio. However, his use of materials is distinctly contemporary, as is the particular subject matter he depicts. Shimoyama was awarded the Al Held Fellowship at the Yale School of Art in 2013 and has had a residency at the 2015 Fire Island Artist Residency. His work has been exhibited in solo and group exhibitions throughout the United States.
Natalia Arbelaez is a Colombian American artist, born and raised in Miami, Florida to immigrant parents. She earned her BFA at Florida International University and her MFA at The Ohio State University, where she received an Enrichment Fellowship. She completed a yearlong residency at the Clay Art Center in Port Chester, New York as a Barbara Rittenberg Fellow and was awarded the 2016 Inaugural Artaxis Fellowship that funded a residency to the Watershed in Newcastle, Maine. Her work has been exhibited nationally in museums and galleries, and is included in collections such as the Everson Museum and the Frederik Meijer Gardens. She was recognized by the National Council on Education for Ceramic Arts as a 2018 emerging artist. Arbelaez was a 2018-19 resident artist at Harvard University, where she researched pre-Columbian art and histories. She is currently an artist in residence at the Museum of Art and Design in New York City, where she continues her research in the work of historical and influential female ceramicists of color.
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