Shauna Finn unveiled her latest collection of paintings at a July 9 opening in the lobby of The Majestic Theater Condominium. Curated by Brendan Carrol, the exhibition includes seven oil paintings on canvas and wood, all created within the last 18 months.
“I was supposed to open the show in March,” Finn said. “But I broke my ankle slipping on ice in February.”
She said she finished some of the pieces just in time for the July 9 opening. Each piece depicts a young woman in a gown.
Finn said she started out with the idea of painting her wedding dress, and was inspired by the Victorian period, which is reflected in a limited palette of color and muted background. Each piece has a dream-like quality that resembles monochrome photographs. She said she likes exploring texture and light.
“I’m very attracted to romanticism and romantic poetry.” – Shauna Finn
She also plays with the impact of light on the gown, lace, and beads.
“I limit my palette, but if I look long enough I think I see colors that are not there,” she joked during the reception.
Her paintings have a classic structure, and she said she is very aware of the classical painting.
“I started with the dress,” she said, trying to use techniques that brought out the texture and light.
Although inspired by the Romantic Art movement, these paintings also have a surreal quality, as the character depicted floats in a hazy space. Several observers at the opening said the pieces, while realistic in their depiction, seemed to evoke something more spiritual.
Finn said she likes to let people take their own meaning from each piece.
This work differs in some ways from her previous work, she said, noting that earlier work sometimes involved manipulating photographic images. In this case, she hired a model to wear the dress, and from this the collection of paintings emerged.
“I’m very attracted to romanticism and romantic poetry,” she said. “I also like the Victorian Era and fairy tales.”
Works with animal images as well
Diana Corvelle, an artist and curator who has worked with Finn, said she loved this collection but said that Finn also likes to work with animal images.
“I have her work in two group shows,” Corvelle said, including a portrait show at the Mark Miller Gallery in New York.
Finn received her Bachelor of Fine Arts from California College of Arts, and then came east to get her Master of Fine Arts from the New York Academy of Arts.
She has displayed her work at a number of galleries in New York including Sotheby’s, Mark Miller Gallery, Kraine Gallery, Sloan Fine Art, the Getty Center and others. She is currently part of several group shows in the area, and has been part of a number of prestigious art residencies in the United States as well as the French West Indies and Normandy, France. She currently lives and works in Jersey City.
Cynthia Hankerson of Jersey City said she comes to a number of exhibits at this site, and said these paintings by Finn seemed to reflect the historic room. The lobby is a partial recreation designed to reflect the Majestic Theater lobby that once stood on this location. Rebuilt by Silverman, the developer, which also hosted the show, the lobby has served as backdrop to as many as 40 shows over 12 years.
Dancer and choreographer Meagan Woods said she liked the light features and noted there is a disparity between realism and the surreal elements, a kind of tension created by the two. Engaged with others at the opening, Woods said contemporary art does not have to choose between realism and fantasy. She said Finn’s work appears to incorporate both for a very moving and provocative effect.
In some ways, she agreed that the figures were a lot like dancers, each haunting in its depiction.
Finn did not disagree with the idea that her works seemed to reflect an era of art that some believe is part of the past, but said that there is a neo-romantic movement which seeks to evoke an emotional response from the viewer, and that she fits in with it.
The Majestic Theatre Condominiums is located at 222 Montgomery St. in Jersey City. The Exhibition will run until Oct. 31.
For more information called (201) 435-8000.
Al Sullivan may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.