Mixed media artist Erin Trefry creates paintings and sculptural assemblage using found objects and materials that evoke the body in their substance (like clay) and in their history of usage (garments, textiles, and remnants and tools of the clothing trade). Her patient deconstruction and reconfiguration of these materials reinvents them away from their function, transforming them into vessels of memory and metaphor with an expanded field of meaning. In biomorphic images and forms, a presence both familiar and alien with a mysterious and witty sensibility makes itself known; each piece flickers with the potential of a soul, and the traces of its life before Trefry’s studio. Her current exhibition Box of Rain is on view at Lowell Ryan Projects in West Adams through February 12.
L.A. WEEKLY: When did you first know you were an artist?
ERIN TREFRY: Making art was never a decision, nor was believing that I could be one. There wasn’t one pivotal moment, instead; a series of supportive acts on the part of my parents who each came from a long lineage of cobblers, textile designers and painters.
What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
Personal archeology, aging, and the time cycle around my work, both concealing and revealing sentiment and impermanence, how the ephemerality of the body informs the wounded symmetry within each composition and is echoed in the materials themselves. Working with different clay forms simulates the movement of one’s primal dance as a mechanism for automatism (or automatic drawing) and serves as a catalyst for abstraction.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
My parents encouraged me to attend LACHSA (Los Angeles County High School for the Arts) where I met my mentor Joseph Gatto. My experiences at LACHSA afforded me the honor of attendingThe Maryland Institute College of Art, Parsons, Paris and the New York Studio program on scholarship. There I met GlenGoldberg, Jan Avgikos and Jerry Saltz, and worked for Larry Rivers, Leonardo Drew and Debra Kass.
When is your current/most recent/next show or project?
I currently have a solo exhibition at Lowell Ryan Projects titled Box of Rain — layers of paint, pins, linen, found items, and stoneware parts come together in a series of paintings and sculptures.
What artist living or dead would you most like to show or work with?
The creator of the Gaga dance method, Ohad Naharin, by virtue of his wisdom of the body, insight of nuanced movement and ability to help one laugh at themselves. I would love to work collaboratively in homage to the Cunnigham, Cage, Rauschenberg works inspired by Marcel Duchamp and the idea of the readymade as a vehicle for chance operation. And like Bill T. Jones, invite non-dancers into the dialog.
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