Abbey Blake and Catherine Spencer met during their residency as part of the Cleveland West Art League’s Six in Studio. The project selected six artists to share CWAL’s exhibition space at 78th Street Studios as a shared studio for a month. Both artists’ interest in abstraction, among other areas, link the their work.
“Abbey and I are both heavily influenced by patterns in nature,” says Spencer. “The natural world is constantly changing and evolving which is a parallel that we drew to our own life experience. This show has given us a chance to highlight the shift in our artistic expression as a result of our constantly changing lives.”
Blake elaborates, “Both of our artistic territories are influenced by nature, but they also include important aspects of who we are as a form of expression. The conversations we have had about this have led us to the title of this show, ‘Unreliable Systems.’ Similar to the unpredictable and continuously changing systems of the natural world, our own organic, conscious and unconscious beings fit into those strange systems as well.”
Abbey Blake and Catherine Spencer present new and recent work in Unreliable Systems at Baldwin-Wallace’s Fawick Gallery this month. Blake’s portion of the exhibition includes installation, encaustic, photography and prints. The works range in size from 8 in. by 10 in. to a large wall installation. Spencer will exhibit acrylic and oil paintings, ranging in size from 8 in. by 8 in. to 48 in. by 60 in. The exhibition includes about 30 works in total.
“Working with Cady has been an amazing experience,” says Blake. “It has been a unique and gratifying opportunity to work out of the same studio. It has been a privilege to not only see my own work develop, but to see her's as well. It’s rare to receive the dialogue and developmental interpretations of the work between two artists throughout the creative process, and I feel fortunate to have been able to work with Cady from start to finish. I am really excited to see everything completed and in one space at Baldwin Wallace.”
Abbey Blake graduated from Cleveland Institute of Art in 2014, with a concentration in printmaking with an additional emphasis on biomedical art. Since graduation, her work has been featured in solo shows at the Shaker Heights Historical Society, Ohio City Masonic Arts Center and CWRU’s Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences, as well as group shows at Heights Arts, Tri-C (Parma and Beachwood), Waterloo Arts, Lakeland Community College, Valley Arts Center, the Morgan Conservatory, Juma Gallery and more. She recently participated in Nature Ordered, a two-person show at Forum Art Space with fellow recent CIA grad Catherine Romine, another participant in CWAL’s 2014 Six in Studio.
Blake is arguably one of the most active and prolific young, emerging artists in the city. Her work is already in the permanent collections of the Cleveland Institute of Art, Dealer Tire Collection, Cleveland Art Association, Southern Graphics Print Archive and Zygote Press’ Print Archive.
Catherine Spencer was born in Cortland, NY. In 2012, she studied at the Santa Reparata International School of Art in Florence, Italy. She graduated with a BFA from NYSCC at Alfred University, majoring in fine art with a minor in art history in 2013. After graduation, she relocated to Cleveland. Her colorful, abstract paintings playfully explore the boundary between abstraction and representation.
“Abstract automatism is a phrase best used to describe painting with the subconscious,” Spencer explains. “This idea is essential to understanding this new body of work. Each painting has limitless possibilities in terms of composition, interpretation, and inspiration due to the unconscious creative force that dictates each of my actions. Before starting a painting I saturate my mind with imagery that relates to specific interests and ideas that I am drawn to. I then extract certain elements from those influences and combine them to create a new work. Microscopy, natural landscape, vision, vegetation and also astrophotography are often part of the list of source material used for this body of work. This body of work rides the fine line between pure abstraction and surrealism. My reason for this is to create a feeling of familiarity and playfulness with the viewer yet still forcing each person to use a little of their own imagination.”
Both artists will be in the gallery for an opening reception this Friday, Nov. 6 from 5 to 8 p.m. Unreliable Systems remains on view through Dec. 4. Regular gallery hours are Mondays through Fridays from 2 to 5 p.m., and by appointment at 440-826-2152. The exhibition and related events are free.
(Baldwin-Wallace’s Fawick Gallery) 95 E. Bagley Rd., 440-826-2239, bw.edu