Oxford’s Southside Gallery hosts exhibit from WCU professor

Published 10:15 am Thursday, March 9, 2017

Southside Gallery will exhibit Saturation: Recent Paintings by Chatham Meade Kemp now through April 1. A reception for the artist will be held Saturday from 5-8 p.m.

Kemp is an assistant professor of art at William Carey University in Hattiesburg. This is her first solo exhibit at Southside Gallery.

Kemp’s new series of color field paintings featuring abstracted landscapes and topographical weather maps is aptly titled. The paintings are indeed saturated with color and visual information. The title is a double entendre of sorts. The Mississippi climate inspired Kemp to title the series Saturation, but the inspiration for subject matter also appears to carry over to her process.

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Large patches of rich color compete with organic lines and patterns to fill Kemp’s compositions. The result is paradoxical. The paintings are raw and tempestuous, like the humid environment of south Mississippi and the storms that shape its geography, but there is also a harmonious order to the paintings.

Some of the artwork from Hattiesburg artist Chatham Meade Kemp that will be on display through April 1 at Southside Gallery.

Despite their energy, there is an instinctive calmness to the compositions that manifests itself in the rigidity of form.

“My paintings celebrate my love of making discoveries with the expressive power of color and the physical process of layering paint on canvas,” said Kemp. “Each work walks a line between representation and abstraction. Certainly, they suggest natural forms such as plants, trees and flowers, not to mention weather patterns and other natural world references. Yet, first, they are also concrete forms where I attempt to organize and harness the energies of color, shape, light, marks and patterns.

“Fundamental to my paintings is the south Mississippi landscape that I call home. Here, there is no long view of the natural world. Instead, one is perpetually staggered by the bright sun and sky and the intense, highly-charged colors of trees and flowers always so close at hand, blanketed by humidity. It is my hope that the paintings are like a long walk in this environment where one is, at times, overwhelmed by the sensations of light and color, but it is the overall impact of the experience that one remembers.”

Another influence on Kemp’s work is the recent tornado that cause major damage to 90 percent of the William Carey campus in January of this year.

Kemp cites this event and life with her husband and three-year-old son, William as inspiration for Saturation.

“Being a painter and a parent of a small child is an interesting juggling act. In many ways, I think having my son William has forced me to make decisions about the importance of my work and to really have courage to develop the work. Being a parent gave me a greater sense of who I am and who I want to be for my child and as an artist.”

For more information, contact Southside Gallery, 662-234-9090.