The City of Los Angeles Department of Cultural Affairs (DCA) and the Los Angeles Municipal Art Gallery (LAMAG) are pleased to present the first institutional solo exhibition by Los Angeles artist Vanessa McConnell.
Presented online, Lithosphere features a selection of paintings, works on paper, and related objects. Taking its title from a geological term describing the Earth’s uppermost layer, the exhibition focuses on the layered power of expression and materiality inherent in McConnell’s artistic practice. The most widely known feature of the Earth’s lithosphere are the tectonic plates – revered for their ability to alter the surface of the planet. Similarly, McConnell’s expertise lies in creating two-dimensional works where the surface expresses her ability to manipulate color and form into seemingly new, three-dimensional forms.
McConnell’s paintings are characterized by their thick impasto surfaces, intense colors, and decisive brushstrokes. The artist experiments with a range of tones and techniques, including masking, acrylics, watercolors, and, sometimes, found objects – often working on a single painting for months at a time.
During her labor-intensive process, McConnell adds multiple layers of acrylic paint to develop densely textured and pigmented compositions. The bold aesthetic of McConnell’s work is also, in part, determined by the physical limits of her medium, as the artist continues to use her brushes until they are too heavy with paint to be manipulated. The dramatic, expressive nature of her mark-making, which sometimes leads to tears and rips in the paper, evinces the artist’s powerful compulsion to paint.
About the Artist
Vanessa McConnell (b.1960, Houston, TX, lives and works in Los Angeles, CA) began her practice at the Exceptional Children’s Foundation (ECF) Art Centers in 1983 at the MLK studio in South Los Angeles, and now works from the ECF Art Center Westside studio located in Inglewood, CA. The ECF Art Center Westside is one of ECF’s five progressive art studios supporting adult artists with developmental disabilities.