Erin Stellmon is originally from Portland, OR and currently lives in Baltimore, MD via New York, NY and Las Vegas, NV. Her mixed media collages, installations and paintings explore the contemporary landscape through barriers, walls and temporary fences intended to “preserve and protect” traditional notions of home.
Aside from her studio work, Stellmon works collaboratively to create live art events in Joshua Tree, CA, and Baltimore, MD. She helped open The Neon Museum in Las Vegas and is currently working with The Baltimore Streetcar Museum to expand their outreach. She has exhibited throughout the US and has had her work featured in numerous publications including the Wall St. Journal and Art in America.
The following video is a walkthrough of Freedom>Force Redux, a show featuring Erin Stellmon, Danielle Kelly, Wendy Kveck and Adam Morey at Sarah West in Las Vegas, NV in 2021.
The current show at Sahara West Library, (“Freedom Force Redux”,) is a collection of works from 4 UNLV grad school artist chums. It’s a reunion, to be sure; each of them has continued to perfect their craft & technique offer the 34,582 years since they graduated (after last year, time truly is a fluid social construct; fight me.)
Wendy Kveck continues to toe the line between graphic & painterly, with her lusciously colorful renditions of women in varying states of repose, ennui, & distress.
Adam Morrey brought forth some stellar & mysterious aquariums (if there’s fish in his illuminated yet obscured tanks, you can be sure they’re not of this world! And you can’t qualitatively assure me that they’re not there…) These boxes house cathedrals from another dimension where folks give geometry & The Ethereal equal consideration.
Danielle Kelley provided some whimsically delightful, yet engaging drawings, together with some heartbreaking soft sculptures of what appear to be bodies in a state of long overdue yet tumultuous rest. Her performance at the reception really drove home what a daily performative endeavor it must be to be a Mother (I’m generally disaffected by performance art, but I must admit to calling my Mom on the way home.)
But the grouping that REALLY caught my eye was 3 small paintings by Erin Stellmon. She had several collage works in her signature 3-D style (I think? No; she did. It’s not that I didn’t take notice, I was just so flabbergasted by these other paintings that I didn’t take adequate note…)
In one corner of the spacious gallery was a cluster of small paintings. They were grandiose landscapes, affronted by a chain link fence pattern in the foreground. The intimate nature of their size was decimated by the electrically colorful palette.
Erin had been exploring construction fencing barricades to great effect prior to the COVID-19 lockdown, but in this new sociological condition, their voice seemed much louder, & more focused.
The fence is a salient metaphor for the pandemic lockdown. The glorious open world that we’ve largely taken for granted (rendered in charming “paint-by-numbers” geometry,) lies just beyond the barrier The yearning for a “return to normalcy” rings loud & clear; if only we could unlock the gate!
The tension between what we want & that which prevents us is sold by the radically exuberant color choices (they truly are electric!)
For me, the dismay of the circumstance carries an underlying message of hope, helped along by the joyous colors (did I mention how colorful these pieces are?)
Every aging troublemaker knows how to surmount a chain link fence when chased by the cops; the impediment is illusory at best, & enticing at better.
She didn’t paint a wall, or even a curtain. She painted a fence; so we could still see the beautiful light. & her barrier is one that we’ve climbed over, or torn down in every similar circumstance.
Every revolution has started with the tearing down of barriers. If you go to Main Street Station in Downtown Las Vegas, you can literally piss on a section of the Berlin Wall.
Erin has shown us this predicament is full Technicolor.
Now you have to see it, figure out what it means, then figure out what you’re actually willing to do about barriers.