This exhibition round includes works by Merrilee Challiss which will be on view in the First Floor Main Gallery from January 9 – February 23 2019.
From the artist:
Living through and partly the cause of the sixth mass extinction on the Earth, I like so many others waking up have gotten a case of the Anthropocene blues. These days I am interested in / motivated by the following questions:
What is the artist’s role in society? How can art be used to show that everything is connected and interdependent? How can art raise consciousness? How can art call into question the quality of the aspirations of our species?
My responses to and meditations on these inquiries manifest in the form of images, objects, and installations. For me the answers lie in the liminal realms and unseen worlds. My work practice is in part synchro-mystic spiritual remediation, a way of looking to the past (McKenna’s “archaic recursion”) in order to bring that wisdom to the present to repair the broken bond between man and nature and the spirit realms so that we may alter our future for a better outcome. The knowledge that everything going forward must be either an elegy for what we have lost (biodiversity, habitat, etc.) or a celebration of what we have left — propels me forward, toggling between joy and grief. I try to make work that engages with the unseen realms, that asks big questions, alludes to bigger mysteries, while fostering a connection and conversation about these ideas with the audience.
My artistic aims are aspirational: 1) to elevate the divine feminine to re-enchant the world 2) to promote the evolution of consciousness 4) to show that everything is connected so that we can begin to heal ourselves and heal the world. I believe that artists can and do serve as tenders and menders of what is broken in society and can function as portals to the imaginal realms (the great generative, cosmic womb) so that we may begin to birth a new vision for what future world we want to build for ourselves.
About the artist:
Born in Cleveland, OH 1971
Merrilee grew up and studied studio art in Birmingham, Alabama. After getting a BA in Studio Arts 1n 1994, including a year of study in Germany, she lived in the Czech Replublic for two years, returning to Alabama in 1996 to work at Studio By The Tracks, an organization that provides free art instruction to “at – risk” youth and adults with autism and schizophrenia. She worked at SBTT until she went to Philadelphia for grad school in 1998 to attend the Pennsylvania Academy of Fine Arts, where she earned an MFA in Sculpture. She eventually came back to Birmingham, AL in 2002 to work once more at Studio By The Tracks, where she served as Art Director until 2006. She also co-founded a craft collective called Collarmoth, whose members showed at Renegade Craft Fair in Brooklyn and in Chicago. In 2006, She opened her own business, BottleTree Café, open until the Spring of 2015, which brought musicians from all around the country and world, to Birmingham. In 2013 Merrilee co-founded the Magic City Mural Collective, a group of artists and designers who aim to elevate the city’s aesthetic presence through mural work. Currently she is working full-time as an artist, living in a studio loft in the Civil Right’s District of downtown Birmingham, which she shares with her three cats.