Michelle Forsyth ‘Letters to Kevin’ — Jan 2013


Auxiliary Projects is proud to present its second exhibition, Michelle Forsyth’s “Letters to Kevin,” opening on January 11, 2012. “Letters to Kevin” is a solo exhibition of drawings, paintings, and sculpture by the native Canadian who now resides in eastern Washington state. There will be an opening reception at the gallery Friday, Jan 11th, from 7-9pm, and the exhibition will run through February 10.For the past eight years, Michelle Forsyth’s work has been inspired by historical events, specifically the balance between public and private memories of collective tragedies and traumas. For “Letters to Kevin,” the artist has brought painting to bear on source material much closer to home while still in pursuit of the documentary mark.  In this exhibition, Forsyth presents representations and interpretations of plaids inspired by the clothing of her husband. In “Kevin’s Shirt: Arrow (Made in the USA),” the plaid is depicted in three dimensions: crumpled, resting flat. In “Kevin’s Shirt (vintage),” Forsyth recreates the plaid frontally, in the manner of a textile study. In both cases the pattern is rendered realistically but the resulting image, like its model, appears abstract. Forsyth’s faithful depictions of existing visual patterns elbow their way into the tradition of abstract painting. The painting’s titles, and the title of the exhibition, lead us part of the way toward the personal narrative that underlies the work, yet the portraits maintain a distance from the man himself. His clothing decisions fill her visual field—color layered upon color, stripe upon stripe, moving through her studio and her home, framing a shared life.For this exhibition, Forsyth has expanded a continuing body of work entitled “Small Plaids” and will display one hundred five-by-five-inch square watercolor paintings, each representing a distinct plaid pattern in a specific palette. The images, concrete and stable from a distance, up close retain innumerable traces of the artist’s hand. Forsyth’s source plaids are mass-produced and market-tested, yet she recreates their designs and colors with personal diligence and care. In the end however, the new materials assert their qualities and we are confronted with passages of pooling paint, variable transparency, and modulating line quality.Finally, Forysth presents plaid fabric works that she has woven herself. As in “Kevin’s Shirt: Arrow (Made in the USA),” these are presented in crumpled heaps on the gallery floor. “Kevin’s Shirt: Arrow (woven),” ”Kevin’s Shirt: Seven Diamonds (woven),” and “Kevin’s Shirt: Vintage (woven),” reawaken the sculptural aspects of the “originals”, the domestic-inspired shirts depicted lying on flat space. Forsyth explores each constituent thread of the plaids, reverse-engineering from mass-produced shirt to hand-painted pattern to hand-woven textile. Their heaping on the floor creates a folded visual plane, allowing the color and pattern to warp unexpectedly, the fabric collapsing on itself, acted on by gravity.

“It is in these private, performative acts of making that I hide my regrets and my fears, yet find myself slipping into moments of reverie.“— Michelle Forsyth 2012

Born in Vancouver BC in 1972, Michelle Forsyth holds an MFA from Rutgers University and a BFA from the University of Victoria. She currently resides in Toronto, Canada.