Apparitions: Props, Friends, and Imagery from a Past Life: The Masterworks of Mari Trevelyan Simpkins
Gasoline (art gallery)
2493 Broad Avenue
Memphis, TN 38112
Statement by Mari Trevelyan Simpkins:
Whether painting or creating prints, I’ve been consistently ruthless in destroying my own finished work that I felt to be “less than my best”. However, I’ve never destroyed photographic negatives-film or digital-and much of the work in this show comes from negatives never intended for any eyes other than my own.
This came about through the selection process of curator Jason Miller, who reminded me that the eye of the beholder always unpredictable. As much as human beings may share in common, nowhere is the unique experiential nature of every person’s reality so evident as in an individual’s response to artworks.
The finished works are part of a satirical series about a leopard purse. The series is a commentary on ritualized consumerism, which is fueled by an irrational belief in the transformative power of objects. This show is less about that theme than it is a glimpse into my own rituals and ways of working. So here, for your enjoyment, is a selection of curiosities: a few finished works, some sketches, throwaway shots, and random ideas.
Many thanks go to Jason Miller, for his patience; his encouragement; and the endless hours of work he has invested in curating the shows in this series.
Between 2001 and 2007, Mari Trevelyan Simpkins produced a body of final print works that she meticulously created using photographs in the digital medium. She worked with great force and focus towards the completion of a grouping of final prints. Props played an unmistakably important role in the production of the aforementioned works. The selections in this exhibition, the tenth installment of Circuitous Succession, will combine the master prints with certain props used in the production process.
The remastered prints in this series will be shown in a new vibrancy and arrangement as never before exhibited. The props present will inform the masterworks in a new viewing experience. As part of this ensemble, recently made works will be unveiled to join the works created in the earlier period.
There is an undercurrent of paper work and various other busy work associated with her role as an art teacher for Memphis City Schools that has devoured much of Mari's time in recent years. Mari's love for teaching and her sincere concern for her students, coupled with her passion as an artist, has been in combat with newly implemented procedures delivered down from the chain of command in the public education system. While this exhibition is about Mari's artwork, from my meetings with her have arose concerns in regard to the future of public education. The viewer is welcomed to ask Mari about her thoughts in regard to the direction of America's public educational system. This makes grades K- 12 a topic of interest born in wake of the art Mari Trevelyan Simpkins has made.
Jason Miller, as curator of this exhibition, asks the question of what new body of work will Mari create when she retires from her role as public school teacher and has time to focus solely on the act of art making? Mari will miss the part of teaching that is focused on the children that she actually teaches, which initially led her to the profession of teaching over three decades ago. However, Mari will not miss the diversions that currently work to not only prevent her from having any free time to work on her own art, but even limit the time she has to spend helping the students she is charged to teach.