It is a rare occurrence to add an artist to my gallery roster. It is a decision I take seriously as my philosophy has caused me to represent a relatively small group of artists I wholeheartedly believe in. It is my distinct pleasure to introduce the work of Katherine Boxall in this inaugural exhibition. I first viewed Katherine’s paintings at her solo exhibition at the Mint Museum in early 2020. I had not known her long and, without previous knowledge of her work, I was overwhelmed. My first thought was that the paintings evoked Intelligent Abstraction. After this initial viewing, I had a visceral and emotional interaction with the paintings and, unlike myself, immediately asked Katherine if she would join the gallery roster. When we scheduled this exhibition the choice of a title was obvious. A native of Ottawa, Katherine holds a BFA from Queen’s University and a MFA from the San Francisco Art Institute and is the recipient of several academic honors and awards. Her abstract expressionist paintings are bold, beautiful and intelligent. They exude conviction, energy and knowledgeable composition while making, I believe, a significant contribution to the understanding of contemporary works of art. Jerald L. Melberg
Alone, you dream in several colors: Blue, wishing, and following the river. In company, you dream in several others The time you don’t have. The time left over. And the time it takes. Li-Young Lee from The Undressing , 2018 1
This push-pull between conscious-unconscious is palpable when she is clearly experimenting with different mark-making methods as seen in BLACK LICORICE where washes of color layer in veils beneath the heavy paint strokes and pours of black. This is particularly visceral in TREAD, the painting where Boxall says she realized she could control the pours. 2 One can feel the constant shift and labor of Boxall as she responds to the different directions of the composition. The thick passages of white latex that fall straight before sloping to the sides is given expanse by the ultramarine passages. All is anchored by the splashes of maroon and the faint stains of Payne’s grey deep in the ground. On the surface Boxall combs the paint, leaving the trace of human presence on the canvas as clearly as a sneaker tread in moist earth. This negotiation of the intuitive and the intentional leads to a new phase of work created in the second half of 2020. With these paintings, inspired by the landscapes of a cross-country road trip, she has reached a new plateau: she constructs the image intentionally as reflections of her instinctive elements which served as the foundation for the earlier works. In the expansive, hazy landscapes of SUN ON THE OCEAN and WALDEN, Boxall paints these tender moments that, in the past, have hit the canvas immediately as her automatic response to the canvas’s empty space. 3 Born in Ottawa, Katherine Boxall completed her MFA at San Francisco Art Institute and moved to Charlotte in the summer of 2018, settling immediately into a studio space in a west side warehouse. There she has been constructing large-scale canvases, beginning with a ground of lush oil pastels—often exploding with saturated color, sometimes crusted over with patches of acrylic skin poured onto the surface.
Every action, consciously and not, is a balance between instinct and deliberation. We are born with an essence that is crafted and mannered according to the society and times in which we live. As we mature, our first reaction may not be the one others see; instead, we act on the intention that has been filtered and revised according to the morals and mores layered atop our minds, like so many screens, until the strata is so thick, we cannot even detect the original impulse. Or maybe, as Carl Jung theorized, there is a shared primordial essence, a collective unconscious, that unites all humans, but remains unrealized by most. If Jung’s theory is true and one were to extract some element, pull it through the many layers to the surface, would others inherently recognize the unburied essence, the faintly familiar vision? Not a burst of recognition, but a slowly unfurling a-ha moment? Katherine Boxall explores this possibility of transferring the unconscious onto her canvases through a more automatic practice, trying to loosen her conscious control of her arm as she draws her compositions onto her canvases. Modulating and modifying those initial marks, she reworks them into complicated compositions that balance the intuitive and the intentional, until she achieves mélange of the two concepts.
Boxall began as a figurative painter. Gradually, Boxall loosened her lines, breaking down the form of the body into broad expanses and elongated, rounded contours. Since 2018, Boxall has worked exclusively in abstraction, although her colors still hint at the corporeal instead of the atmospheric. On some canvases—BURNT BUBBLEGUM and CHERRY COLA, it seems as if veins ruptured and pale skin acquired bruises. Her working process, Boxall says, still ties the paintings to the body:
Conversely, her new work, although made in a city warehouse, is informed by Boxall’s experiences camping in the middle of an international pandemic. Immersed in undisturbed and wildly diverse landscapes, she discovered a sense of calm and peace unknown to her in cities and yet, still found herself attuned to the antagonism around her from sources such as the sulfur- filled springs, a subtle menace detected in the acrid greens of the enticingly titled BEAUTY POOL. Boxall explains:
These new works are more atmospheric, more about landscape, reflecting where I was in 2020, in total isolation. But they also reference environmental landmarks where I was camping—Yellowstone Park, The Grand Tetons and California coast’s blue bodies of water. They are toxic and you want to enter them, but they are menacing. 8
You start with a map of the body with crayon or pastel because it doesn’t muddy any of the oil colors; instead, it becomes absorbed. (Graphite will ruin the pigment.) It allows you to be loose with that material and still be accurate and thoughtful. 4
After sketching her composition on the canvas, she pours acrylic into pools, and then paints in oil around them. Oil is the last thing I use , Boxall says, because it sits on top of all that acrylic paint and maintains its luster. 5 She also employs spray paint, which she says,
Landscapes such as BEAUTY POOL and YELLOWSTONE were painted after Boxall returned to Charlotte, where another unnatural dichotomy awaited her—although she lived in a city again, the pandemic shut down society, with businesses shuttered and streets sparsely peopled. She implies subtle shifts in space and time—a still landscape (TWO BLUES)— with the movement of the pours and atmospheric haze created by layers of transparent paint and aerosol sprays of pigment. That tension, in Boxall’s words, becomes more about the split moment, reflecting fleeting moments of happiness felt during this time. 9 This is particularly potent in the recent landscapes, in which one feels the overwhelming awe of Boxall in the presence of these landscapes. There is precedence for this: poets like William Wordsworth and painters like Clifford Still have captured that overwhelming sensation of the natural world’s resounding presence in which humans happen to live. Boxall builds upon this record of reactions—the soft beauty of her
is a pure San Francisco influence. All of those artists were using it and it retained the strong colors I would see on the outside. Bright colors on houses and the bold mark making of street artists could be brought into the studio just by using spray paint. 6
Despite moving beyond representation, this first series of abstractions were inspired by city streets. Boxall describes them as responding to the hustle and bustle of urban life, where organic material (people, trees, clouds, sky) must find its place in spaces defined by the industrial (steel, asphalt, brick, architectural forms). When you find a harmony, that’s what you’re looking for as a painter. That’s what becomes interesting and haunting and worth looking at. 7
expansive YELLOWSTONE and TEXAS MADRONE’s vibrant saturated color bursting through fused pinks and browns and the sudden dominant whites that perfectly capture the essence of these majestic trees with their clusters of pale flowers stalwartly breaking the Texas plains. Appropriately, in response to the unfettered expanse of the natural landscape, Boxall transfers immediately that instinctual response. After years of exploring the automatic, it has become a tool for immediate implementation—responsive and reactive, the unconscious and the aware, an opportunity to find magic both in the dreams alone and the dreams with others. Here, Boxall finds the harmony to give us our a-ha moment.
Jen Sudul Edwards, Ph.D. Chief Curator and Curator of Contemporary Art The Mint Museum
BEAUTY POOL 2020 Acrylic, Pastel, Oil and Spray Paint on Canvas 48 x 36 inches
1 Li-Young Lee, The Undressing . (New York, London: W.W. Norton, 2018), 14-15. 2 In conversation with the author, December 2, 2020. 3 Ibid. 4 Conversation with the author, October 17, 2019.
YELLOWSTONE 2020 Acrylic, Pastel, Oil and Spray Paint on Canvas 48 x 72 inches
WALDEN 2020 Acrylic, Pastel, Oil and Spray Paint on Canvas 60 x 48 inches
TEXAS MADRONE 2020 Acrylic, Pastel, Oil and Spray Paint on Canvas 30 x 24 inches
WAVE TUMULT 2020 Acrylic, Handmade Pastel, Enamel and Oil on Canvas 30 x 24 inches
HAIRFLIP 2018 Acrylic, Pastel, Oil and Spray Paint on Canvas 96 x 72 inches
MOAB 2020 Acrylic, Pastel, Oil and Spray Paint on Canvas 12 x 12 inches
CHERRY COLA 2020 Acrylic, House Paint, Pastel and Oil on Canvas 60 x 48 inches
THE SANCTUARY 2020 Acrylic, Handmade Pastel, Spray Paint and Oil on Canvas 30 x 24 inches
GRAND FIELD 2020 Acrylic, Handmade Pastel, Spray Paint and Oil on Canvas 36 x 24 inches
BEAUTY POOL 2020 Acrylic, Pastel, Oil and Spray Paint on Canvas 48 x 36 inches
BLACK LICORICE 2020 Acrylic, Pastel, Oil and Spray Paint on Canvas 96 x 72 inches
MAPLE CANDY 2019 Acrylic, Pastel, Oil and Spray Paint on Canvas 96 x 72 inches
BURNT BUBBLEGUM 2018 Acrylic, Pastel, Oil and Spray Paint on Canvas 96 x 72 inches
TREAD 2020 Acrylic, Pastel, Oil and Spray Paint on Canvas 72 x 48 inches
TWO BLUES 2020 Acrylic, Handmade Pastel, Spray Paint and Oil on Canvas 48 x 60 inches
KALEIDOSCOPE 2020 Acrylic, Handmade Pastel, Spray Paint and Oil on Canvas 48 x 60 inches
PINK DRIP 2020 Acrylic, Pastel, Oil and Spray Paint on Canvas 48 x 72 inches
UNTITLED (CREAMSICLE) 2018 Acrylic, Enamel, Spray Paint and Oil on Canvas 96 x 72 inches
SUN ON THE OCEAN 2020 Acrylic, Handmade Pastel, Spray Paint and Oil on Canvas 24 x 36 inches
SUNSET IN SANTA BARBARA 2020 Acrylic, Handmade Pastel, Spray Paint and Oil on Canvas 48 x 72 inches
Katherine Boxall b. 1993, Ottawa, Ontario
EDUCATION MFA, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA BFA, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON International Exchange, University of New South Wales Art & Design, Sydney, NSW HONORS Arts & Science Council Artist Support Grant Clyde & Co Art Award Clyde & Co Art Award Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation Artist Grant San Francisco Art Institute MFA Presidential Fellowship Queen’s University BFA Entrance Scholarship SOLO EXHIBITIONS Jerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, NC The Mint Museum, Charlotte, NC New Gallery of Modern Art, Charlotte, NC
Clyde & Co, San Francisco, CA Nobody is Perfect, East Village, NY Clyde & Co, San Francisco, CA Southern Pacific Brewery, San Francisco, CA GROUP EXHIBITIONS
2018 2016 2015
Jerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, NC Jerald Melberg Gallery, Charlotte, NC Ideal Glass Studios, New York, NY Adidas , San Francisco, CA San Francisco Art Institute-Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA Swell Gallery, San Francisco, CA The William Vale, Williamsburg, NY The General’s Residence Fort Mason, San Francisco, CA Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA Diego Rivera Gallery, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA Chesnut Courtyard, San Francisco Art Institute, San Francisco, CA Ashbury College, Ottawa, ON Kudos Gallery, University of New South Wales Art & Design, Sydney, NSW Ontario Hall, Queen’s University, Kingston, ON The Union Gallery, Kingston, ON
2021 2020 2019
2020 2018 2017 2017 2016-18
2021 2020 2019
BIBLIOGRAPHY “2018 MFA Catalogue”. San Francisco Art Institute. May 2018: 11. “A&D Annual 2015”. University of New South Wales Art & Design. December 2015. “Begin Anywhere, BFA Graduate Catalogue 2015.” Queen’s University at Kingston. May 2015. Huggins, Michele. “Artist Katherine Boxall on virtual connections, mental blocks and 6 AM puppy cuddles in COVID-19 crisis”. The Mint Museum. April 6, 2020. Infanzon, Vanessa. “At age 26, this Charlotte artist is trying to set herself up for long-term success.” The Charlotte Observer. November 26, 2019. Martin, Cathy. “Beauty Amid Chaos.” South Park Magazine. January 2021:64-71. Merrel, Eleanor. “Katherine Boxall: Swiss Army Knife Of The Artist Community.” QC Exclusive Magazine. Summer 2020: 31-34.
Omar, Kashmala. “Art with No Boundaries.” The Queen’s Journal. Nov 27, 2014. Edition 13. Portillo, Caroline. “On the Daily.” The Mint Museum INSPIRED Magazine. Spring 2020: 12-13. “MFA Now 2017.” Root Division. March 2017. “Stuck Inside.” The Union Gallery. November 2014.
Boxall’s studio, Charlotte, NC Photography by Kelsey Kline
Published on the occasion of the exhibition KATHERINE BOXALL Intelligent Abstraction January 16 - March 6, 2021
Jerald Melberg Gallery Inc. 625 South Sharon Amity Road Charlotte, NC 28211 704.365.3000 email@example.com www.jeraldmelberg.com