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Sophia Ainslie and John Eric Byers Press Release

Sophia Ainslie: Pata Pata

John Eric Byers: Form is Function

September 8 – October 3, 2015 at Gallery NAGA


Gallery NAGA opens our 39th season with our first solo exhibition of paintings by South African-born Sophia Ainslie and the sixth solo exhibition of furniture by John Eric Byers.

Sophia Ainslie: Pata Pata and John Eric Byers: Form is Function are on exhibit from September 8th through October 3rd.  A reception for the artists and the public will be held at the gallery on Friday, September 11th from 6 to 8 pm.

Sophia Ainslie   Pata Pata

After the death of her mother from cancer, Sophia Ainslie began using a single X-ray of her mother’s abdomen as source material.  It became a way to hold onto the memory of her mother and absorb the meaning of her passing.

The resulting shapes and marks led to the development of Ainslie’s visual language.  Ainslie “collages” carefully selected shapes and marks from that language to create an overall composition.  She uses the computer as a cutting tool to dissect, edit and collage fragments that are reconstituted and mapped through light projection.  Brushed, free-flowing India ink marks are juxtaposed with white space and flat, bright, painted color to create her paintings.  Each entity learns to coexist while maintaining its own identity.  Her intent is to create ambiguity as to whether the work is hand-made or printed and to prove that things are not always quite what they seem.

Ainslie is interested in forming a space that reflects the relationship between the body and landscape as interconnected and parallel experiences.  Drawing becomes a tool wherein observation and imagination intersect, resulting in a relationship of connections and disconnections between outside and inside or absence and presence.

The title of the exhibition, Pata Pata, meaning, “touch touch” in Xhosa, is very close to Ainslie’s heart.  It comes from a Xhosa song by the South African singer Miriam Makeba whom she grew up listening and dancing to.  This title refers to the formal aspect of her work – the collision that occurs between the black marks, the segments of color, and the white negative space.  The marks in her newest work are more confident, gestural and thick.  Ainslie feels that her mother’s body is now becoming more fragmented within her work.  The composition and content is closer to the surface, as if Ainslie is now passing through her mother’s body.

John Eric Byers   Form is Function

John Eric Byers, now in his mid-fifties, is the most lauded studio furniture maker of his generation and also perhaps the most active.  Focusing his energy on his studio and choosing not to teach, Byers has produced scores of private commissions and twenty-four solo exhibitions between 1991 and 2015, including a mid-career retrospective in 2004 at the Fuller Craft Museum in Brockton, Massachusetts.

The newest works are both calm and intense - precise, minimalist forms whose surfaces shimmer with the varying tones and light revealed and reflected by the thousands upon thousands of gouged marks on every face.  Close inspection shows that these marks themselves resemble the touch of the artist’s fingertip.  This exhibition shows a departure from Byers’ vigorous cross hatching patterns and presents a new divot technique that appears smooth and organic.  He continues his use of self-contained, pure shapes creating a sleek, sexy, contemporary aesthetic.

Like Byer’s past work, the finishes are muted, matte and restrained.  This exhibition features only a dazzling, graphite-black and a crisp white color with a touch of exposed walnut and brass accents.

John Eric Byers’ work can be found in the permanent collections of the Museum of Arts & Design, New York; the Smithsonian American Art Museum, Washington DC; New Britain Museum of Art, Connecticut; and several other museums.  John is the recipient of the Louis Comfort Tiffany Foundation Award and two New York Foundation of the Arts Awards.

Bart Niswonger at Society of Arts and Crafts





Sophia Ainslie and John Eric Byers Recent Press

Peri Schwartz at The University of Mississippi Museum

Peri Schwartz: Paintings • Drawings • Prints

September 22, 2015–January 3, 2016

Reception: Tuesday, October 27, 2015, 5–8:00 p.m.

Part of the Oxford Arts Crawl

Peri Schwartz grew up in Far Rockaway, NY. She studied at Boston University’s School of Fine Arts and received an MFA at Queens College. She lives and works in New Rochelle, NY. In paintings, prints and drawings she focuses on composition and the interplay of color, light and space. Her work is in museum collections in the US and Europe. This exhibition will highlight her talents in several media.


Finding Your Path in Architecture: Photography With Peter Vanderwarker

Finding Your Path in Architecture: Photography With Peter Vanderwarker

Peter Vanderwarker will repeat last year’s successful evening of photography at the BSA. We will meet at BSA Space (290 Congress Street, Boston), where Vanderwarker will give a short lecture on the important aspects of photography. He will use examples of his own work for magazines, architects, and books, focusing on how to tell a story with a photograph, how to set up a shot, and the proper execution for best results.

Vanderwarker will then take everyone outside for a 45-minute “assignment.” All participants will shoot the assignment, and we will put the work up for evaluation.  Participants should bring their own camera to shoot with.

Peter Vanderwarker’s work has won Institute Honors from the American Institute of Architects. He was a Loeb Fellow at Harvard University, and his photography is in major museum collections. He is represented by Gallery NAGA, Boston.


This event is sponsored by the BSA Emerging Professionals Network.


For more information and to sign up click here.


Photo: Peter Vanderwarker.