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something old / something new

First Saturday Gallery Openings ||| 7 April & 5 May ::: Exhibition on view 5 April - 25 May 2018

Press Release

4 April 2018 (New Orleans, LA):  JONATHAN FERRARA GALLERY is pleased to present the debut solo exhibition of New Orleans-based artist Carlton Scott Sturgill, entitled Something Old / Something New. The show examines the artist range through his innovative use of various everyday materials from paintings of mosaicked paint chip samples to installations composed of up-cycled garments. The exhibition will be on view from 5 April through 25 May 2018 with opening receptions coinciding with the Arts District of New Orleans’ (ANDO) First Saturday Gallery Openings on Saturday 7 April from 6-9pm and a second on 5 May from 6-11pm, for the event Jammin’ On Julia which brings live music, food and drink vendors, public art and thousands of arts patrons together for a Julia Street block party.


The artist discusses the new body of work . . .

My grandmother was a quilt maker. Born in 1915 in Appalachia, her quilts weren’t made from anything that you would find at a Joann Fabric store. She took objects that had an existing function and gave them a new life. I grew up sleeping under a patchwork of her faded housedresses and my grandfather’s work-worn button-down shirts. Where others saw scraps of tattered fabric that had reached the end of their lifespan, my grandmother saw Ohio stars, Maltese crosses and other quilting patterns. 

Tradition dictates an assumption of purpose, a prescribed path for everything that must be followed. Everything from work shirts to paint chip samples to wedding dresses have an agreed upon life arch. But an intervention, such as my grandmother’s, can give something a new purpose. A work shirt becomes a quilt, a paint chip sample becomes a mosaic, and a wedding dress becomes a bouquet of roses. The essence of the former purpose remains even as new characteristics are created, giving the objects a dual citizenship between what they were and what they have become.

Until recently the tradition of marriage had a prescribed path as well. One man and one woman joined together in a life-long monogamous union resulting in children, and until astonishingly recently, they needed to be of the same race and religion and from similar socioeconomic backgrounds. Many people believe that wedding traditions have been static for millennia, but like everything else it’s in a state of glacial evolution, punctuated by dramatic interventions that create revolutionary change. In our time of titanic shifts in the definition of marriage, many elements are being added, blending ancient and contemporary traditions to create something new. 

My latest series of work, titled Something Old/Something New, examines the shifting notions of marriage by repurposing longstanding traditions into something more fitting for our current time. Secondhand wedding clothes are given a fresh start as roses, dahlias, and clematises. Paint chip samples are cut apart and spliced back together to spell out a couple’s longing for a non-conventional household. The French traditional of globe de mariée displays, which hit their height of popularity during the era of Napoleon III, are recreated for an era of marriage equality. 

Like my grandmother, I have a soft spot for things that have reached the end of their predetermined purpose. Instead of discarding and forgetting about them, I want to help give them a new life. The Law of Conservation of Mass tells us that matter is neither created nor destroyed, it only shifts into different configuration. When it comes to traditions, if we’re going to make something new, we can start by creatively repurposing the building blocks of something old.  

CARLTON SCOTT STURGILL received his Masters of Arts (Fine Art) from London’s Chelsea Collage of Art in Design in 2005, and his BA from the University of Cincinnati in 2002. Although he now lives outside of the Queen City, his work continues to be shaped by his Midwestern roots. His work has been exhibited in numerous galleries and museums in North America and Europe, including the Cornell Museum of Art in Delray Beach, Florida, Temple Bar Gallery in Dublin, Ireland, the Newhouse Center for Contemporary Art in New York City, as well as, PULSE Miami Beach Contemporary Art Fair and Art on Paper NYC. Sturgill currently lives and works in New Orleans, Louisiana.


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