Marcelyn McNeil : Lead Heavy Feather Light


Marcelyn McNeil : Lead Heavy Feather Light
May 17 – Aug 25, 2018

In her first Robischon Gallery solo exhibition, “Lead Heavy Feather Light,” Texas artist Marcelyn
McNeil presents new paintings that balance both the considered with the serendipitous as elements
compete against and flow together across the canvas plane. McNeil’s dynamic paintings take form
slowly and individually, with a painting process that emphasizes a sense of flatness, as it considers the
sculptural in form. Intuitively, the artist finds harmony and clarity between the two through color, as
both shape and color unfold in a process of discovery. McNeil often composes utilizing cut-outs and
many modes of paint applications - layered, poured and sprayed; bold brushwork, and watery washes of
color – all in service to the artist’s idiomatic abstraction. She states “My work is both formal and
idiosyncratic. I identify simple clear forms that embody assertiveness, a kind of peculiarity and
vulnerability at once. The masses I describe have a way of being both flat and dimensional and I have
often thought about sculpture while I paint with the works often a hybrid of structure, architecture, and
human anatomy. The process involves taping and pouring and is both controlled and intuitive as I work
on the canvas horizontally on the floor as much as on the wall.”

In building on these conceptual concerns, an evolution takes place in the current work of “Lead
Heavy Feather Light” – a more meditative and personal response to the fast-paced, chaotic age. As the
shift translates to her work, the signature bold forms of McNeil’s compositions share the stage with
softer edges and quieter passage ways, which invite the viewer to contemplate and investigate further.
Compositional components, such as the two, subtle iridescent gold elements of Yellow Gold Gray give
illusory dimension to the diffusely-painted gradation of gray pigments; and in Orange on Pink, the eye-
catching orange half circle gives way to the textural wash of its counterpart, the painted pink form
located beneath. McNeil considers, “The times we live in have caused me to re-evaluate what’s
meaningful to my studio practice. In previous bodies of work, I have been more concerned with
animating inanimate form in an off-kilter manner. While this is still of interest, it has become important
that the new paintings translate more quietly. Through manipulating materials in a more nuanced way, a
lush conversation unfolds between soft and hard form. There are occasions in the work when
foreground and background bleed together and blurred surfaces slow down seeing. Working in oils, a
confluence of pouring, spraying, gradating and blurring paint combine to encourage a more
contemplative meditative experience. As I try to find a kind of soulfulness in inanimate form - intuition,
risk, and play inform a rigorous process.”

Marcelyn McNeil has an MFA from University of Illinois at Chicago and a BFA from Pacific
Northwest College of Art, Portland, OR. A recent recipient of A Zeta Orionis Fellowship, a Vermont
Studio Center Residency, a 100 W Corsicana Residency, Corsicana, TX as well as a Milton and Sally Avery
Fellow at MacDowell Colony, Petersbourough, NH. Additionally, McNeil has been a Sharps- Walentas
Studio Program Fellow, Visual Artist of the Year, Decorative Arts Center, Houston, TX and a Hunting Art
Prize finalist multiple times, awarded a CAAP Grant, The City of Chicago, Department of Cultural Affairs,
a fellowship from The University of Illinois at Chicago, Chicago, IL, and the Purchase Award, The Portland
Art Museum, Portland, OR as well as being a repeat artist in New American Paintings (Western Edition).