Between Chance and Control

Haley Andres, Abbie Baldwin, Kristan Shuford

Kittredge Gallery, University of Puget Sound - March  to April 2015

TACOMA, Wash. – University of Puget Sound’s Kittredge Gallery celebrates the work of recent graduates in a show titled Between Chance and Control, on view in the Small Gallery this spring. The exhibition was curated by Lucas Sokolsky, a 2014 graduate in art history.

Last year, after several weeks in Budapest studying contemporary art, Sokolsky met up with fellow Puget Sound graduates Haley Andres ’14, Abbie Baldwin ’14, and Kristan Shuford ’14. The three women were working and studying in Leipzig, Germany, part of a two-month residency at Halle 14, a nonprofit contemporary art center. Observing their work and that of other Halle 14 artists, Sokolsky began to develop ideas for an exhibition in Kittredge Gallery.  

The transition from university student to member of the workforce is one that is anything but clear, yet the Halle 14 residency gave Andres, Baldwin, and Shuford the opportunity to ponder their identities as artists and future careers. It allowed them for the first time to stress individual creation above all else. The works on view at Kittredge Gallery represent the most serious time these artists have spent as artists—without scholarly obligations, work, or assignments to guide their processes.

Artistic agency guides the works of each artist through a process of abandoning and reclaiming. Haley Andres is a painter who is deeply concerned with her process. Her abstract paintings relay the delicate balance of control between the artist and the materials she uses. Marks waver between self-designated and material dictated, leaving room on the canvas for chance aesthetics as much as Andres’ own intuition.

 Abbie Baldwin is a printmaker and sculptor whose work in Leipzig revolved around chance and agency in an entirely different manifestation than that of Andres. Rather than use the canvas to explore her process, Baldwin took an introspective approach to understand what it meant to her, personally, to be an artist. Her work fashions sculptures and collections out of found materials collected around Leipzig, taken from their scattered locations and put back together, guided by her own realizations.

It is not always the artistic identity that guides creation, however, as seen through the work of Kristan Shuford. Shuford’s passion for dance greatly influences her canvases, sculptures, and performance pieces. Marks, forms, and colors are influenced by the movement of the human body itself, sometimes with dance directly touching the final piece.

It is fitting that these artists should explore issues of chance and control in Leipzig. Located in Southeast Germany, Leipzig was the site of several peaceful demonstrations leading up to the fall of the Berlin Wall. Just 25 years ago, it was a town nearly devoid of contemporary art and freedom of expression. Today, it is home to the Spinnerai, a massive cotton mill converted into a cultural center, housing restaurants, studios, and art galleries—including Halle 14. For Andres, Baldwin, and Shuford, the Halle 14 residency offered the chance to be a part of this legacy, where taking artistic control is so valuable.

Kittredge Gallery serves as a teaching tool for the art department and a cultural resource for both the university and the community at large, exhibiting work by noted regional and national artists. Exhibits and talks are free and open to the public.

All photos courtesy of Ross Mulhausen