Shaun Cassidy and Tom Stanley: Collaboration of Fragments

Shaun Cassidy and Tom Stanley: Collaboration of Fragments 

Thursday, November 19 – December 31, 2009.

Opening reception, Thursday, November 19th, 5:30 – 7:30 pm

The Sumter County Gallery of Art is proud to present Collaboration of Fragments”. This Exhibition consists primarily of a series of wall mounted painted aluminum and steel collages, as well as works on paper and canvas. The exhibition is a result of the artists’ collaborative thinking and working over the past two years. 

   Shaun Cassidy’s constructions mime and mine the territory established between stage and audience, an awkward relationship when the proscenium is unpopulated.  The work assumes the roles of stage (the physical piece), actor (an implied presence) and story (an inferred narrative), requiring the viewer to complete the narrative and identify metaphor according to his or her disposition and experience.

   Cassidy states: “Collaboration of Fragments consists primarily of a series of wall mounted painted aluminum and steel collages. The collages, although abstract, upon reflection suggest particular forms and fragments of imagery. The intense color relationships, and the selection and juxtaposition of shapes, work to enhance  the energy, movement and resonance of each collage and to provide the collective body of work with a spirit of joy, directness and intuitive freedom. Working collaboratively has opened new doors, and new creative paths have developed as a result of the collision of our individual interests and working habits.”

   Shaun Cassidy received a B.A. Honors from the Norwich School of Art, U.K. and his M.V.A. from the University of Alberta, Canada. He has been an Associate Professor of Art and Design at Winthrop since 1999. Cassidy’s work has been included in many solo and group exhibitions including DeCordova Museum and Sculpture Park, Lincoln, MA, 1996, 2000, Franconia Sculpture Park, Shafer, MN, 1998, “Release”, McColl Center for Visual Arts, Charlotte, NC (solo), 2002, “The Felt Moment”, Columbia Museum of Art, Columbia, SC, 2003, “Space Revisions”, Sumter Gallery of Art, Sumter, SC, 2003 (curated by Tom Stanley), and “Accessibility: Space Questions”, Sumter, SC, 2004.

   Using music as a point of departure for improvisation In his early career, Tom Stanley began explorations into visual art and music with painted impressions of works by Dave Brubeck and Paul Desmond.  However, over the past fifteen years, Stanley’s paintings have become much more structured using symmetry, form, and iconography or symbols as a means to explore free floating visual narratives. Personal memory has been central to the narrative in series like en route to hamlet (that explored an imagined relationship with John Coltrane on rural roads leading to small towns in the Carolinas); and across the river and Floating (both of which explored an artistic search for his grandfather, “young painter” Tom Stanley, who drowned in the Mississippi River in 1920 New Orleans). Regardless, all of the images depend on the simplicity of mechanical drawing and sgraffito techniques. Images that he uses are typically flat and silhouette-like. In contrast to earlier work, recent paintings have explored a random and totally fabricated 3-dimensional perspective. As an occasional curator, Stanley’s professional interests and experiences have often revolved around interactions with self-taught artists and their works. He would like to think that his own artwork has been influenced by their attitudes and approaches to art making, but concedes that any comparison may lie more in a shared humanity. Recent work in the area of public art with colleague Shaun Cassidy has encouraged him to consider broader audiences while navigating a spirit of collaboration and common interests in the integrity of the work.  Stanley is continually trying to find ways for his work, and the work of other artists and students, to enter into the public dialogue. He believes that artists have a responsibility to introduce what they d artistically into the mix of civic engagement.

   Stanley notes that the project, Collaboration of Fragments “has been, and still is, a very fluid yet fragmented process of  communication and interaction that has led to new ideas and discovery.  Works created collaboratively  have also informed our individual works produced during this period.  The process has been impacted by  demands on our personal time that translate to fragments of creative time.  Regardless, this is the most  productive I have been in recent memory. I look forward to what will be next.”

   Tom Stanley received his B.A. in Studio Art from Belmont Abbey/Sacred Heart Colleges, Belmont, NC and his M.F.A. in Painting from the University of SC. Stanley, the longtime Director of Winthrop University Galleries, has been the Chair and Associate Professor of the Dept. of Fine Arts at Winthrop since 2007. His work has been included in many solo and group exhibitions including en route to orleans, McColl Center for Visual Arts, Charlotte, NC, 2001, Accessibility 2001, Sumter, SC, Triennial 2004, S.C. State Museum, South Carolina Birds, Sumter Gallery of Art and Burroughs Chapin Art Museum, 2004, Floating, Ken Kirschman Artspace, NOCCA Riverfront, New Orleans, LA, 2004, Sommerwende International Arts Festival, gallery twenty-four, Berlin, 2005, Introductions, Barbara Archer Gallery, Atlanta, GA, 2006.           

   Cassidy and Stanley have recently been collaborating on commissioned works including  Journey, a  55 foot powder-coated aluminum wallpiece for the North Carolina Local Government Federal Credit Union in Raleigh celebrating images of North Carolina from the mountains to the coast. However, the Sumter project partially funded by a Winthrop University Faculty Research Grant is the first opportunity the two artists have had to pursue artworks that emerge from their individual  and collective creative goals.

   Karen Watson, Director of the Sumter County Gallery of Art notes the enthusiasm surrounding this show stating that “both Tom and Shaun are familiar to Sumter audiences through the inclusion of their work in several shows at the gallery (Stanley’s work was included in South Carolina Birds, 2004, and the State Art Collection 1987-2006, 2006, and Cassidy’s work was in Space Revisions 2003), and their participation in Sumter’s Accessibility installation project; Stanley in 2001 and Cassidy in 2004.”       

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