CONVERSATION #7: Portland Edition

  • The Via Agency 619 Congress St Portland, ME, 04101 United States

Above the Sea of Fog: New Encounters in Landscape

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For centuries, artists have used the landscape as inspiration, subject, setting, specter, and reference to the sublime. Often, these lines blur: the iconic Caspar Von Friedrich painting Wanderer above the Sea of Fog can be read as man conquering nature; man in awe of nature; or man’s insignificance within the natural world.

CONVERSATIONS is pleased to present three artists, Christopher Carroll (A ’08), Lilly McElroy (A’ 06), and Scott Wiener (A ’10), who have metaphorically played the role of Von Friedrich’s Wanderer to various comic, tragic, and alienating ends. In their respective work, these artists explore many themes: clichés of the natural world and the sublime; relationships to history and time through the consistency of landscape; a disassociation with nature; the politics and history of site; and the complex relationship between being subject to the natural world and attempting to control one’s place within it. Through their use of photo- and video-based media, and oftentimes their own bodies, Carroll, McElroy, and Weiner attempt to collapse the distance between the artist and their experience with and within the landscape. 

Christopher Carroll
b.1981, Richmond, VA

Christopher Carroll attended Skowhegan in 2008. He received his MFA from Massachusetts College of Art and Design in 2010, his BFA from Virginia Commonwealth University in 2003, and has exhibited his work both nationally and internationally. Although Christopher predominantly works in video and sculpture, he is also an avid printmaker and musician. Recent exhibitions include "Off the Wall" at the Hudson Guild, in New York City and "Present Tense" at Vox Populi, in Philadelphia. Recent publications include "Drain" and "temporary land bridge" as well as inclusion in “Going to the Dogs: Bourgeois Expectations and Savage Longings in Courbet’s The Quarry”, by Paula Lee. Christopher has participated in several lecture series including: The Melancholy Object: Embracing materialism in the post-studio world at "Presenting at 17", in New York City and Out of the Ruins: Reimagining the Romantic Tradition, at the New Art Center, Newtonville, MA. Originally from Virginia, Christopher currently lives and works in New York City.

Lilly McElroy
b. 1979, Globe, AZ

Lilly McElroy grew up in Arizona, surrounded by cliché representations of her own experiences. There were cowboys riding bulls, coyotes howling on moonlit nights, and beautiful sunsets. She has translated those experiences into epic photographs and playfully antagonistic videos. Lilly performs for the camera, enacting gestures that reflect a desire for control over subjects as ungovernable as nature. Her work investigates the American West and what means to be an American in a time of diminished expectations. Lilly received her MFA from The School of the Art Institute of Chicago and her BFA from The University of Arizona. She was a participant at Skowhegan School of Painting & Sculpture and a Visual Arts Fellow at the Fine Arts Work Center in Provincetown. Her work has been shown at venues including Modern Art Oxford in the United Kingdom, Southern Exposure Gallery in San Francisco, and Rick Wester Fine Art in New York City. Lilly lives and works in Los Angeles.

Scott Wiener
b. 1977, Baltimore, MD

Scott spent his early life traveling from one military base to another, never spending more than four years in one place. The work he produces is a direct result of an attempt to hold onto time and place, and he uses lens-based media to examine how place generates antagonistic points of reference for both public and private histories. Scott studied at Massachusetts College of Art and Design (BFA, 2001), the School of the Art Institute of Chicago (MFA, 2007), the Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture (2010) and a completed a 2009-10 DAAD (German Academic Exchange Service) Scholarship for Fine Arts in Leipzig, Germany. Recent exhibitions include “Brink v1” at the Boston Center for the Arts (2014), “Distant Images, Local Positions” at the Elizabeth Foundation for the Arts (2014), a solo exhibition at the 92Y Weill Gallery entitled “The Luxury of Distance” (2012), a group exhibition of the same name at Kunstverein Weiden in Germany (2012), and curatorial project entitled “All Our Tomorrows and Yesterdays” at Proof Gallery in Boston (2013). His work has been profiled and reviewed in Temporary Land Bridge, Afterimage, Hyperallergic, Big Red & Shiny, ARTnews, The Boston Globe, TimeOut Chicago, and Paper & Carriage. He has been a guest lecturer and critic at Maine College of Art, the University of California San Diego, the University of Missouri, Columbia, The Tisch School of the Arts, NYU, Leipzig Universität, and Massachusetts College of Art and Design. Currently, Scott lives and works in Boston, MA.


SkowheganCONVERSATIONS is a discussion series celebrating the significance of the dialogue that takes place outside of the studio, the classroom, and the gallery. Many generative moments at Skowhegan happen between formal discussions, critiques, and lectures, when participants and faculty have the opportunity to delve deeply into the topics that inform their work and practices. These moments happen while lounging after dinner, on the lawn in the afternoon sun, and in a myriad of other landscapes and times when boundaries are dissolved, and real discourse can take place.