Jean Alexander Frater and Margaret Welsh: Centered.

Opening: Friday, Jan 13, 2023 5:30 – 7:30 pm
Friday, Jan 13 – Feb 24, 2023

864 N. Ashland Ave, Chicago, IL 60622

Both a beginning and a destination, the ‘center’ is a measure of balance—of weight, of composition, of well-being. The center is a point of overlap between art and life.

ENGAGE Projects is delighted to announce our upcoming show Centered. featuring work by Jean Alexander Frater and Margaret Welsh. Tertiary colors will fill the gallery in organic shapes and parceled compositions, both vibrant and resistant in their departure from popular culture. Foregrounding the medium itself, the exhibition explores painting as a form of objecthood. Alexander Frater and Welsh speak a feminist vernacular, choosing to engage more surface while occupying less space with their work. Themes of expansion and contraction act as foil to one another while punctuating a larger question of what it means to inhabit space. Reflecting on the politics of physical and social landscapes, Centered. contemplates space as a shared resource in which the ‘center’ exists in abundance as a fluid point defined by one’s own equidistance within a chosen community.

Alexander Frater experiments with the physical properties of painting, and the inherent—yet overlooked—objecthood of two-dimensional works. She deconstructs the question of painting’s relevance today, often by deconstructing the medium itself; rather than continuing its history of portraiture, a tradition used to fix time on canvas, Alexander Frater foregrounds the materiality, and, as it follows, the impermanence of the medium through the fundamental principles of gravity and surface. In this way, her wall-hanging works embody volume and temporality as they give way to the unyielding laws of nature. Alexander Frater received her MFA from School of Art the Institute of Chicago, and a BA in Philosophy from the University of Dayton, Ohio. She was a 2017-2018 Chicago Artists BOLT resident, and her work has been exhibited internationally in venues including the Wexner Center for Arts, Columbus; El Museo Cultural de Santa Fe; Images Festival, Toronto; Possible Project Space, Brooklyn; Ben-Gurion airport, Tel Aviv; Kulturhuset, Stockholm, THE MISSION Gallery, Chicago; Transmitter Gallery, Brooklyn; and Guest Spot @ The Reinstitute, Baltimore. 

Welsh sources rejected materials common to households such as house paint and paper drop cloths to create her newest series featured in Centered. Interested in the value transference that occurs during the upturning of waste to art objects, Welsh transforms what was once deemed everyday waste into painted relics of the present. Making work under the presupposition that repetition does not exist, her iterative paintings contain a significance not only as individual works, but as a summation of something greater. Welsh earned her BA in English from Northwestern University and her MFA in Studio Arts from the University of Illinois in Chicago, where she studied under Phyllis Bramson, Julia Fish, and Tony Tasset. Her work has been exhibited at PPOW (NYC), White Columns (NYC), CASSTL (Antwerp), Charim Project Space (Vienna), and DOCUMENT (Chicago).

Alexander Frater and Welsh will be part of the Arts & Conversations talk in Palm Beach on January 31st. Sharing the mission to demystify the art world and uphold accessibility as a priority, ENGAGE Projects returns for our third year in partnership with the Arts & Conversations program.

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Image: Margaret Welsh, Trophy Woman (deepest almond), 2022, house paint on paper drop cloth on panel with string, 17.25 x 18 x 3.75 in Jean Alexander Frater, Stretched inward and outward, 2022, acrylic and latex on canvas, 30 x 34 in