Lee Ann Conlan: Sou.ve.nir
Sou.ve.nir, Thee EYE
June 5, 2012
Lee Ann Conlan’s latest show, “Souvenir”, opened at Thee EYE on Friday, June 1. A sardine-packed crowd of art lovers and well wishers turned out to get a glimpse of Conlan’s new work - intensely intimate pieces which expose the painful, powerful, and cathartic moments of the artist’s life to public scrutiny.
Some ominous, some heart wrenching, many inspiring, Conlan’s new collection - the very definition of “remarkable” - aptly demonstrates the old adage, “Hindsight is 20/20”. The pieces tell a tale of the losses, lessons, catharses, and ultimately the survival of a brave, reflective female. I had the privilege of spending some time with the artist, who took the opportunity to share the origins of a selected few of her “Souvenirs”.
The Red Flags
These are letters I’ve kept from a relationship. I’ve sewn them all together, and I call them “Red Flags” because maybe if I’d paid better attention to them, I would’ve done things differently, but they went ignored. Sewn in among them are my medical records - different things that happened that had to do with the story of the letters. For instance, there was a car wreck that took over five hundred days of healing, including recovery from a skull fracture, and then a back surgery.
I love the texture of the notes. This guy was crazy - he would write on anything and everything, so there is great texture to the piece. I took them and sewed them together on a sewing machine. It ended up being over eighty feet of souvenirs, and it worked to transform the dramatic vertical space of this gallery.
I had a relationship end and I tend to just purge art when that happens, so this body of work started in mid November, and by January 1, I was having this book printed. There are 70 pages to the book of these digital collages, so there are more than are shown on the gallery walls. It tells a story: you get hurt, you feel sorrow, that turns to anger, and then you go into humor and have to laugh. It speaks to how when someone is so ugly on the inside, it is comical to me that the outside can be so important. All of the words are copied and pasted from emails or texts.
This is a self portrait with a quote. I have terrible social anxiety, and there is a song with the lyrics, “Just want to stop and catch my breath, spend one second on this earth not scared to death.” I took different lyrics of the song, printed them on newsprint with each phrase being a headline. I wanted this to illustrate that feeling of being scared and how paralyzing that anxiety can be, so I took the lyrics and wrapped them around the vase so you could really get that feeling of being contained. The only time I can get rid of it is at a show, because I know people come to support, so they’re here for good reasons, and I can calm myself that way. I get through the night and then go back in my shell.
Sou.ve.nir is currently showing through the month of June at Thee EYE, 333 E Grand Avenue, Unit 108. Gallery hours are Monday-Friday, Noon-5 and Saturday, 11-5. Appointments may be arranged outside of normal business hours by calling 515-864-9832. Website: www.theeyeopens.com.