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    Sgraffito in Tom Stanley’s series Vessels | Tue. Jun. 27, 2017


    As seen throughout the Scratching the Surface exhibition, Tom Stanley uses sgraffito to create depth and texture in his work that often features paintings, work that often features flattened straight lines and simple geometric shapes. However, in regards to sgraffito, it is his Vessels series that headlines among the series of paintings on display at the Halsey, Stanley’s Vessels stands out due to his use of sgraffito. Highlighted by a stark black background, the white scratchings of the artist are able to come through and create volume that compliments the sizable vessels depicted in the painting. The chaotic lines of sgraffito double as a way to gain texture against a limited color palette and also represent the movements of waves beneath the boats. Whether it be repeating small circles, mountainous, triangular shapes, or disorganized scratchings, the sgraffito in Vessels is an important example of the multi-purposeful technique of sgraffito. Stanley is able to master this old Renaissance technique and tie it into his entire exhibition.

    Most of the series seen in Scratching the Surface work with an extremely limited color palette, and this is seen in Vessels with his most notable colors being black, white, and rare markings of grayish blue. Stanley’s sgraffito covers the majority of the black background, with only peaks of black showing through the spaces between scratchings. The large boats are made known are distinguished by the sharp white lines that act as form a barrier against the chaotic sgraffito.

    This is not the first time that Stanley has worked with boats. It was during his Floating series, one of the earliest showcasing at the Halsey, that the artist became familiar with painting boats. Although this work features little sgraffito, Stanley remains faithful to his use of a limited color palette, focusing on black, white, and red to depict his work. Years later, Stanley would create Vessels, this time concentrating on his use of sgraffito and its ability to mimic the open waters.

    Each boat in the Vessels series is placed differently on the canvas. Along with this, their sizes range as well. This small variation with a repeated image is one of Stanley’s signature techniques and can be seen throughout Scratching the Surface. Whether it be the different colored homes in Houses, or the water towers in The Neighborhood, Stanley reconfigures the idea of the everyday object and turns it into an opportunity to express his incredible talent and creativity.

    -by Brittany Marino, Halsey Intern

    Tom Stanley: A Road to Nowhere | Fri. Jun. 16, 2017

    Tom Stanley, A Road to Nowhere (triptychs, top: Set A, bottom: Set C; installation view), 2015. Acrylic on canvas, each 24 x 24 inches. Courtesy of the artist and the George Gallery, Charleston. Photo: Rick Rhodes Photography.

    Whether it be on board a train, looking out of a car window, or simply walking around, Tom Stanley’s A Road to Nowhere series makes one feel as if they are observing passing landscapes on voyage to somewhere (or nowhere). The A Road to Nowhere collection includes four triptychs, two currently on display at the Halsey (set A and C).

    Stanley’s application of vibrant lines in the series compliment the neutral background and creates movement that bounces one’s attention from canvas to canvas. Through geometric shapes and distinctive travel icons such as a bridge, a water tower, and street signs, declare themselves in the work, generating an industrialized feel and adding to the adventure. A contrast between light and dark also presents itself in A Road to Nowhere and alludes to passing time as the artwork flows, perhaps between night and day. Furthermore, Stanley’s use of the sgraffito technique of drawing into wet paint magically exposes detail and texture. Solid geometric objects appear in contrast to the sgraffito technique in the paintings. Throughout the Scratching the Surface exhibition at the Halsey, one can view the last decade of Tom Stanley’s artwork beyond A Road to Nowhere, tracing the progression of his staple technique of sgraffito. 

    Tom Stanley’s A Road to Nowhere not only ignites a visual adventure, but it also constructs a bridge between visual arts and music enthusiasts. Stanley’s A Road to Nowhere was inspired by the Talking Head’s song Road to Nowhere. Tom Stanley excelled in capturing song lyrics, twisting and transforming them into his own visual piece. With uncertainty always looming in life, both Tom Stanley and David Byrne of the Talking Heads found ways to shed an optimistic light on doom.

    To witness artists crossing disciplines for inspiration, as Stanley has done in A Road to Nowhere, is fascinating. The connectivity between art and people when a painter can find inspiration in a song, an author finds inspiration in a ballet, a musician finds inspiration in a painting, etc. itself is moving. A famous example of art influencing other artists is Italian composer Ottorino Respighi using Botticelli’s Primavera, Adoration of the Magi, and Birth of Venus as inspiration for his piece Trittico Botticelliano. Art inspiring and encouraging other artists… That’s cool.

    Come check out Tom Stanley’s work on display at the Halsey until July 8th and be inspired!

    -by Sessalie Gore, Halsey Intern

    Celebrating Women in the Arts | Fri. Mar. 31, 2017

    Throughout the month of March, the Halsey Institute celebrated Women’s History Month by participating in the #5womenartists campaign developed by the National Museum of Women in the Arts in Washington, D.C.

    Last year, NMWA developed the social media campaign to highlight the gender inequality in the arts by challenging people to name 5 women artists on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter. This year, they had 500 organizations from more than 25 countries participate! The Halsey Institute was the only participating institution in Charleston, SC. The Halsey spent the last month highlighting women artists from past exhibitions, including Renee Stout, Jiha Moon, Aldwyth, Leslie Wayne, Alyson Shotz, and Lesley Dill. We also held a discussion, part of our Halsey Talks series titled Halsey Talks: 5 Women Artists, which explored what it means to be a woman working in the arts today. 5 women artists from South Carolina participated in this discussion, including Michaela Pilar Brown, Arianne King Comer, Donna Cooper Hurt, Camela Guevara, and Kristi Ryba. A video of this talk can be found here.

    Can you name 5 women artists? Here are the artists we named:

    Mark Sloan, Director & Chief Curator:
    Louise Bourgeois
    Louise Nevelson
    Lee Bontecou
    Hannelore Baron
    Julie Mehretu

    Louise Bourgeois

    Tatjana Beylotte, Director of Development:
    Jiha Moon
    Kara Walker
    Frida Kahlo
    Helen Frankenthaler
    Annie Leibovitz


    Kara Walker

    Bryan Granger, Manager of Exhibitions and Public Programs:
    Vera Molnar
    Sarah Sze
    Jenny Holzer
    Lynn Hershman Leeson
    Mickalene Thomas

    Jenny Holzer


    Katie McCampbell, Manager of Traveling Exhibitions and Special Projects:
    Maria Martinez
    Kara Walker
    Artemisia Gentileschi
    Jenny Holzer
    Bu Hua

    Maria Martinez

    Kaylee Lass, Assistant to the Director:
    Sonya Clark
    Nancy Witt
    Helen Frankenthaler
    Elizabeth O’Neill Verner
    Vivian Maier

    Vivian Meier

    Maya McGauley, Education & Outreach Coordinator:
    Helen Frankenthaler
    Joan Mitchell
    Cindy Sherman
    Yayoi Kusama
    Agnes Martin

    Helen Frankenthaler


    Katie Lesser, Archivist:
    Yayoi Kusama
    Eva Hesse
    Jenny Holzer
    Agnes Martin
    Helen Frankenthaler

    Yayoi Kusama

    Jonathan Rypkema, Preparator:
    Kit King
    Nikki Scioscia
    Deanna Templeton
    Margaret Kilgallen
    Sophie Roach

    Deanna Templeton

    We look forward to featuring more artists by participating in the #5womenartists challenge next year! Until then, check out our exhibition archive or take a look at our publications featuring women artists.

    By Maya McGauley
    Education and Outreach Coordinator
    Halsey Institute


    Community Partners 2017