IN CONVERSATION: Ashlynn Browning + Katy Mixon
4.1.22 to 6.10.22

Opening Reception with the Artists | April 1 from 6 to 8 PM

This series of exhibitions is about starting a conversation – between two artists, and with the viewer. We invited an artist partner to ask another artist that inspires them to exhibit their work together. In Conversation captures the exchange between two practicing artists that illuminates the parallels they recognize in their work and beyond.

Inquire about work

ASHLYNN
BROWNING:

Your work came to mind as an interesting counterpoint to mine as far as material, but with some strong process oriented connections. At first glance, there is our mutual use of organic geometry. Even more than that, I think our process is quite similar… we layer, erode, dig, and excavate repeatedly to get to our final images.

KATY
MIXON:

Part of it, for me, is this back and forth with the surface and the texture of trial and error. I work in a circular way, painting across multiple supports simultaneously, taking from one adding to another. I’ve tried to create a structure that will support this process while also paying attention to the by-products of this approach like the paint-stained rags from which I construct the quilts. I see this in your work, too – the way certain forms repeat so that each painting is a kind of stage on which various relationships play out. I’m interested to hear how you think about these interactions. Do you plan them out? Or, do you find them in the process of making and unmaking?

ASHLYNN
BROWNING:

Like you, I rely heavily on trial and error in my process, and on an intuitive approach over all. I don’t plan the work ahead but rather enjoy the stumbling and ups and downs inherent to following where each piece wants to go. And each feeds the next. We share that cyclical process. I think I have a certain vocabulary of forms that recur in the paintings but these variables are mixed in a different manner each time. Some of the forms are stand-ins for figures and some act more as a “place,” a psychological landscape. I like to keep things fresh and surprising so I’m always open to new ways of using materials and creating the tension of opposites. Bold/muted color, organic/geometric forms, painterly/clean hardedge.

KATY
MIXON:

I think it’s interesting you describe your shapes as stand-ins for figures. When I imagine your paintings, without thinking of any one piece in particular, I get a sense of compression like in family photos where everyone is trying to cram into the picture. When I look at specific works like Onward and Indomitable, I immediately see windows and webs. On the one hand, they make me think of the way paintings have historically been compared to windows as frames through which to view the world, and on the other, they seem like references to our digital lives. Are either of these what you have in mind when you refer to psychological landscapes?

ASHLYNN
BROWNING:

You’re right, windows and webs figure into a lot of the pieces. I think they are ways of playing with the layering, letting the viewer see under the surface and examine the history of the painting…the way it gets built up over time and through a process of adding and subtracting. On a more personal level, I also think about concealing and revealing. I do view many of the forms in my work as personified..as creatures, or entities unto themselves. Perhaps it’s my coded way of doing a self-portrait without really doing a self-portrait. And so, the windows into under layers are a way of letting people in but also keeping them partially at bay. I love this line from your artist statement, “My paintings are inquiries into the surface of things, namely color and texture, for their power to emote and conceal.” I relate to that so much. When you’re thinking about surface, is it strictly with a process perspective or does it represent other things as well to you?

KATY
MIXON:

Self-portraiture through abstraction feels like rich material. Often described as emotional or expressive, I see it as a viable way to visualize the creative process. Like the scientific method, painting is a way of thinking through systems, more compulsive than impulsive in my case. My surfaces act as skins that keep a record of each distinct mark and the cumulative texture generated with age. Color is an input in this system. I hear a lot of artists talk about working with color, how it can slyly seep from one painting to the next and before they know it all of their paintings look similar. I find this phenomenon really interesting that color is contagious and needs to be contained. Most of my work is an exercise in releasing and containing color, which a surface is perfect for.

ASHLYNN BROWNING
(b. 1977, American)
Lives and works in Raleigh, NC

Ashlynn Browning earned BA degrees in Studio Art and English from Meredith College in 2000 and her MFA in painting and printmaking from the University of NC at Greensboro in 2002. She has received grants and residency fellowships from the Joan Mitchell Foundation, United Arts Council, Vermont Studio Center, and Virginia Center for Creative Arts. Select exhibitions include the Weatherspoon Art Museum, Greensboro, NC, North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh, NC, Whitespace, Atlanta, GA, CUE Foundation, New York, NY, and Hemphill Fine Arts, Washington, DC. She has exhibited internationally in London, Paris, Ireland, and Hong Kong. Browning’s work was featured in the 2009, 2015 and 2020 Southern Edition of New American Paintings and has been reviewed by The Brooklyn Rail, Burnaway, The Washington Post, Washington City Paper, and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Browning’s recent curatorial projects include the 2020 exhibition, Front Burner: Highlights in Contemporary North Carolina Painting, for the North Carolina Museum of Art in Raleigh, NC.

KATY MIXON
(b. 1984, American)
Lives and works in Charleston, SC

Mixon is a visual artist working in painting, sculpture, quilting and photography. She earned an MFA from University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and a B.A. from Davidson College. She is an alumna of the School of the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. Mixon is a recipient of a Working Artist Grant and a Ruth and Harold Chenven Foundation Award.  Mixon was invited as an artist-in-residence to the Gibbes Museum of Art, SC; VCCA, VA; Kimmel Harding Nelson Center, Neb.; The Hambidge Center, Ga.; AICAD Studio Practice Residency, N.Y.; and Byrdcliffe Art Colony, N.Y. Select exhibition venues include the North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; GreenHill Gallery, N.C.; the Southeastern Center for Contemporary Art, NC; Ackland Art Museum, N.C.; Spartanburg Art Museum, S.C.; Coker University, S.C.; A.I.R. Gallery, Brooklyn, N.Y.; The Painting Center, New York; Target Gallery, Va.; Rubber Stamp Projects, Fla.; Allcott Gallery, N.C.; 701 Center for Contemporary Art, S.C.; among others.